Posted by Joshua on Friday, October 5th, 2007
Samuel Pickering Jr., "Pedagogica Deserta: Memoir of a Fulbright Year in Syria," The American Scholar, 2001.
This moving article about Latakia in 1980-1981 was sent to me by Damian Quinn, who lives in Damascus. Having spent 1981-1982 as a Fulbright student at the University of Damascus, I was particularly touched by the article. Perhaps it was just nostalgia. Damian wrote:
I'm sure you will be interested in this fantastic article that Jeff, an American graduate student at Georgetown who I met here this summer, sent me. It's by a American who taught in Lattakia under the aegis of the Fulbright programme in the late 70's at the apogee of the Muslim Brotherhood insurgency, and his article gives a great flavour of what it was like living in provincial Syria during those times. Its a wonderful testament to his year here and the episodes he recounts such as his student's tea party, listening to the 1812 overture at night with bombs exploding around them and teaching Hamlet at Tishreen University are pitch perfect. Not sure if you'd want to post it, but its a great read.
All the best, Damian
Samuel F. Pickering (born September 30, 1941) is a professor of English at the University of Connecticut in Storrs. His unconventional teaching style was the inspiration for the character of Mr. Keating, played by Robin Williams in the film Dead Poets Society. Pickering specializes in the familiar essay, children's literature, nature writers, and 18th and 19th century English literature. In addition to teaching, he has published many collections of non-fiction personal essays as well as over 200 articles.
Sam Pickering was born and raised in Nashville, Tennessee, where he attended (and later taught at) Montgomery Bell Academy. He received his B.A. from University of the South, his second B.A. and M.A. from St Catharine's College, Cambridge, and his second M.A. and Ph.D from Princeton University.
- …I tie all kinds of things together because I like to drift. That’s the way life is. Some folks don’t like that.