Faculty Profile: Joshua Clover
Were you an English major? Tell us what your major(s) and minor(s) in college were and were you went to undergrad.
I double-majored in English and Astrophysics at Boston University.
What's the coolest non-professor job you have ever had?
During graduate school, I was the DJ on Thursdays and Saturdays at the only nightclub in Iowa City, IA, the 620 Club, which was also the only location in all of western Iowa listed in the Gay Yellow Pages, which were an actual thing before the internet.
What is your favorite memory at UC Davis?
In 2012, a bunch of people protesting the devastating explosion of student debt blockaded a corporate bank that was once in the student union — they just literally sat on the floor in the hallway of the MU so you couldn't get through the bank doors — until the bank closed down and left. So long, bank.
What is a must-read for an English major?
I don't really believe in must-reads. One great way to contextualize literary study, open up discussions with other kinds of people, and outmaneuver stupid criticisms of the Humanities, is to take a course on economic history. Not economics, that's 95% justifications for why it's good to have oligarchs.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
At my desk, trying to figure something out. It will look like I am writing, and maybe some useful words will come of it, but really I will just be trying to figure something out. Writing is thinking — that is the secret of being an English major, if there is a secret
What are you passionate about?
Cats, the end of capitalism, police abolition, poetry, friends and comrades, loud music. Like, really loud.
What do you like to do in your free time to unwind?
No one's time is free until everyone's time is free.
If you could write a book about your life, what would the title be?
". . . And Then He Listened to Some More Prince"
What makes you proud to be an English professor?
I will admit I am hesitant to feel proud about jobs. This is a great job but I will never feel great about having to show up somewhere to work for someone else or risk having no food or shelter. But I have absolutely been honored to work with inspired and principled students who, faced with a terrifying and often hopeless-seeming world, choose every day to keep trying, to take risks for a better world, and to figure out some important things.
Tell us briefly about one or more of your favorite English teachers or professors. Did you have any who really influenced you?
I have had a ton of great professors, but I am who I am because of Carolyn Williams, my undergraduate advisor. She is a (retired) Victorianist, which is not my thing, but she is the reason I became an English major: she was so intellectually vibrant, and was a tirelessly generous and thoughtful teacher even when I was a young and irresponsible student. I took all her courses, But also, shout out to her grad student TAs, who taught the sections and were really smart and caring.
What's the best English class you ever took?
See above: Carolyn Williams' seminar on "The Lyric." It was the only course I ever chose that met before 10am. It is also the source of my coffee habit.
What's your favorite English class to teach here at UC Davis?
Right now my favorites are ENL10C, the survey of 20th Cen literatures in English, and ENL167, 20th Century African American Poetry.
Cats or Dogs?
Coffee or tea?
Early bird or night owl?