Reggie Forest, assistant professor of English, has always traveled.
Growing up in a military home his family moved constantly. Then, in higher education Forest jumped from place to place.
Forest first attended the University of Kentucky for his bachelor’s and master’s degrees. He then went to San Francisco for his MFA in Creative Writing. He earned his PhD in English at the University of New England in Australia.
“I’ve always loved movement, moving, seeing new things. I’ve always been interested in words and how they interact with us,” Forest said.
Forest has been at APSU for about 10 years.
“This is a very interesting school, because of its heavy military presence. You see different walks of life coming through,” Forest said.
He is now in his third office. Located in the Memorial Health Building, his office is nestled deep within the ROTC program. Students in uniform talk around a table at the opening of his hallway. In the opposite hall, a door opens to a dance studio. Forest likes it here, he says.
“Since the ROTC people are here, I talk to the cadre and there have been some art people, and since I have an MFA, it is kind of an odd juncture, but at least for me, I get the best of both worlds being in this building,” Forest said.
In his Ph.D. Forest says he is making an argument that the western literary canon tends to be fairly myopic.
“Most of the writers are white males, which is not wrong, but there are other groups who write,” Forest said.
Forest encourages his students to think about diversity in his English classes, such as World Literature.
“If we look at the texts not only from a literary point of view, but historical, then that is our way in. You get into the characters and you steer the conversation to where that is the next topic that has to be dealt with,” Forest said.
Forest doesn’t want to force any belief on his students, however. He tries to leave room for them to make their own decisions.
“As a professor I gets tricky because you have to step backward. You cannot force a student to think a certain way. That’s just going to be rejection, but if you leave it for him or her in a safe zone. Then generally they do want to talk,” Forest said.
Forest believes that history and literature are inextricably bound.
“We tell stories. Whether if it’s about a country, a tribe, my family tree, it is a story. So, in that sense every story is a type of historical narrative, and if you shy away from one part, you lose the story,” Forest said. “But in an era of trying not to be seen as a bad person, and perhaps feeling a little guilty, it’s easier to shy away from that.”