Jesse Bishop teaches lessons of literature and life

Jesse Bishop, assistant professor of English at Floyd and Cartersville, sits, awaiting his interview in his Spartan office at the Floyd campus in front of an acrylic stencil of Hunter S. Thompson made on a vinyl record.

The rest of the office is mostly bare, barring a few books and his MacBook, but that is all he needs to be one of the most well-respected teachers at GHC.

When asked about her experience with Bishop, former student Chiara VanTubbergen said, “Of all the classes I took at GHC, the one I most enjoyed was English 1102 with Professor Bishop. Not only did I learn about literature in Professor Bishop’s class, but I actually learned skills that will help me in other classes and in life.”

Bishop was born in Floyd County, but he grew up in Jacksonville, Fla. After graduating from Robert E. Lee High school in Jacksonville, he returned to Georgia to take classes at what was then Floyd College (now GHC).

He started college as a biology major, and took Biology for Majors with David Cook, which was a very difficult class. Bishop said, “It was intense. It was the hardest class I had ever taken, but it was rewarding because I learned so much, and part of what I learned was that I didn’t want to be a biology major after all.”

After Floyd College, Bishop went to the University of West Georgia to be a communication major, but ended up changing to English.

Highlands will always be a special place for Bishop. When he was a student here, Bishop was involved in many activities around the campus. He was a writer and then an editor for the Six Mile Post, was involved with the GHC Soccer Team, worked with the webzine FC Bytes, submitted work to the Old Red Kimono, was part of the student leadership program and worked in the financial aid office as well as at the computer help desk. He was also part of the very first group of orientation advisers.

As well as being involved in extracurricular activities, Bishop also met his future wife and his brother-in-law at Floyd College.

Jesse Bishop speaks to one of his classes on the Cartersville campus.

Bishop returned to Georgia Highlands when he received a phone call during his first year of grad school and was asked to teach an English 0099 class the next week as part of an accelerated transfer program with the University of West Georgia. He became director of that program and went on to get his master’s degree from West Georgia and moved into a tenure track position at GHC.

Bishop said, “The coolest thing about my job is that I get to come in every day and have a different conversation with a different group of students about work, and they always bring up new things. They always mention things that I had not noticed the first time. That’s a really cool experience.”

He said, “My students always laugh when I tell them that Shakespeare and Chaucer are famous for their penis and fart jokes. The students laugh but it’s true; they are. I sort of take that irreverent approach to whatever I’m teaching. I don’t think there’s anything that’s been written so far that we can’t look at from a critical perspective and have some fun with. It’s not that we’re learning about the books, but we are learning about this process of negotiating the world around us.”

Currently, Bishop is the director of Diversity Initiatives, which is a new program that tries to help the college better serve all of its students. Diversity Initiatives will be hosting a series of “international nights” as well as a few upcoming lectures. Bishop is also involved with the First-Year Experience Program as well as a co-advisor for the Old Red Kimono literary magazine at GHC.

On Oct. 27 Bishop will be participating in a public discussion, along with several other panelists, about the role of monsters in western culture. The discussion will be on the Floyd campus at 7 p.m. in room I-133. Attendees are told to expect some film clips, light refreshments, and an “important outlook on the role of monsters.”

Bishop is on the Floyd campus Monday and Wednesday this semester and at Cartersville on Tuesday and Thursday. His non-Spartan office is at the Cartersville campus.