My name is John Friedlander, and I am an
associate professor of English here at Southwest
Tennessee Community College. Although my schedule varies from semester to semester, I
regularly teach courses in composition, literature, and introduction
I come originally from California--I was born
in San Francisco, and grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. I moved to Memphis in
1971 to accept a position as an instructor at the University of Memphis. I taught
for five years at the university, then for two years at Shelby State Community College
here in the city. I have been teaching at Southwest Tennessee Community
College (formerly as State Technical Institute at Memphis) since 1978.
I earned my master's degree in English at the
University of Chicago in 1971, and my bachelor's degree in English at Santa Clara
University, in Santa Clara, California, in 1969. I was lucky enough to spend my
senior year of college in Austria, at the Institute for European Studies and the
University of Vienna. I've since lost most of the German I learned, but I still
carry traces of too many Viennese pastries.
My wife and I have been married 29 years, and we
have two daughters, one a graduate of the University of Evansville (an aspiring
actor), and one a junior at Kenyon College (currently an English
major). We also
have two dogs, and a wasteland in our backyard to prove it.
I am proud of my association with
Southwest Tennessee Community College,
and I'm grateful to teach here. I appreciate the college's commitment to preparing
students well, and I admire the commitment and sacrifices so many of our students make to
build their skills and advance their careers. I regularly pronounce the
names of graduates at commencement, and I'm always proud of the people who cross the
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- As you might expect of an English teacher, I like to read. For escape, I like
mystery novels of all kinds (Ruth Rendell, Patricia Highsmith, Walter Mosely and Reginald
Hill are among my favorite authors in this field--though BarbaraNeely's Blanche
books are becoming favorites, too). I also read more serious stuff.
Novels I've particularly enjoyed over the past few years have been Independence Day, by Richard
Ford, RL's Dream, by Walter Mosely, Rule of the Bone, by Russell Banks, Stones
from the River, by Ursula Hegi, and The Good Negress, by A. J.
Verdelle. This year I particularly enjoyed The Time of Our Singing
by Richard Powers. In non-fiction, I really enjoyed both The Language Instinct
and The Blank Slate, by Steven
Pinker, and a 1980 book about modern physics called The Dancing Wu Li Masters, by
- I've always liked movies. I wasted much of my youth watching weekday movies on
television, and Saturday double feature matinees at the local theaters. I got hooked
on foreign films through film clubs in college, and still think of Fellini's 8 1/2
as my favorite film. I'm most attracted to foreign and independent films, which provide a
less predictable way of seeing than most mainstream Hollywood films offer, but I like
Hollywood escapism, too. I'm a sucker for hype, and I followed the crowds to Independence
Day and Titanic, and even The Lost World (there's a film I regret
seeing--I still can't believe Spielberg let that get out with his name on it). Slightly
more recent movies I've enjoyed include American Beauty, Monson
Wedding, Bend It Like Beckham, and X-2: X-Men United. So
far this year I found myself most moved by Finding Neverland, though
I had a lot of fun with Sideways, and admired The Aviator.
- I like to cook and to eat. For a while I was the regular restaurant critic for The
Memphis Flyer, and I also wrote some restaurant reviews for Memphis
magazine. I won a blue ribbon for a loaf of rye bread at the Mid-South Fair
one year, and I've got (somewhere) a postcard from Julia Child, thanking me for a recipe I
sent her (she's a generous and gracious lady!). I've gotten to
the point where I'm satisfied with the bagels I bake, and I am only slightly
fixated on keeping my kitchen knives sharp. I do most of the cooking
in our home, but not enough of the cleaning up.
- I'm a fairly capable writer--in addition to the restaurant reviews I used to write, I
also wrote various consumer pieces for Memphis magazine, and was their humor
columnist for some time, as well. Still, I'm uncomfortable with the blank page, and
try to avoid having to write whenever I can. I offer really sound advice about how
to write efficiently and how to overcome reluctance, fear and procrastination; but I don't
always follow my own advice. When I was in college, I once put off writing a paper
by alphabetizing the garments in my closet and carefully folding all the clothes in my
dirty clothes box.
- I hate the idea of yard work, and look forward to winter, when everything dies off.
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Values and Expectations
- I value honesty, courtesy, and hard work. I look for those qualities in my
students, and I try to offer those qualities as a teacher. They're hard qualities to
- I am convinced that strong writing and reading skills make a difference in our careers
and in the quality of our lives, and that every sincere effort to improve those skills
will ultimately pay off.
- I am genuinely enthusiastic about the content of the courses I teach. I don't
expect my students always to share that enthusiasm, but I like it if they pretend to.
Address: Southwest Tennessee Community College
5983 Macon Cove
Memphis, TN 38134
Phone: (901) 333-4274
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