Roseanne G. Gatto

Associate Professor

A Greek of the fifth century B.C. lived in a polis—a civilized community the size of a small city but with the political autonomy of a state. In such a situation a youth would grow to manhood feeling his constant interrelatedness with the life and aims of his polis and knowing that the principal road to success was likely to lie in a political direction. The virtue, the arête, the human excellence that the youth would wish to develop for himself would be personal and political at once.

— Phillip Wheelwright

The problem is not changing people’s consciousness--or what’s in their heads--but the political, economic, institutional regime of the production of truth.

— Foucault

As a teacher, I see my role as creating a space that is full of the kind of difference and tension that encourages a meaningful and rich classroom happening.  As my students enter the classroom, I ask them one question.  What are they burning to tell the world?  The answers I receive vary drastically, but the underlying philosophy of my approach is that our students have something important to say, if only we give them the space to do so.  Students spend the semester writing and publishing a book about what they are burning to tell the world.  These books cross a number of genres.  I encourage my students to embrace hybrid multimedia projects and research, while pushing them to take seriously academic forms they find daunting. I want them to explore their mother tongues critically, to celebrate their home discourses and dialects without romanticizing them. And I need them to critique and rethink their understanding of academic discourse—not to fetishize academic dialects, but rather to explore them as equally viable sites for imaginative thinking and political agency. The bottom line is that I want my students to approach a variety of discourse communities—whether local or academic, vernacular or research—from their own situated experiences, to think imaginatively and critically about traditional and hybrid forms and media.

In my time at St. John’s, I’ve held a number of leadership positions that have enabled me to work on multiple writing initiatives across disciplinary boundaries.  I’ve had the opportunity to create and facilitate a variety of workshops for students, faculty, and administrators through our university’s Ozanam Scholars Program and our Vincentian Mission Certificate Program.  I have worked closely with the Ozanam scholars, a cohort of honors students involved in intensive research and service, and led journaling programs for faculty and administrators.  In addition, I am co-organizer of our department’s “Comp and Coffee” Speaker Series, featuring noted names in the field of Composition and Rhetoric such as Sondra Perl, Mark MacBeth, and Derek Owens.