The June 2006 edition of By George! includes the following words about two overachieving professors of English, Robert McRuer and Jane Shore:
Associate Professor of English Robert McRuer was researching and writing about lesbian and gay studies—or “queer theory”—and AIDS cultural theory when he was asked by a member of his local reading group to explore the connections between queer theory and disability studies. The result, Crip Theory: Cultural Signs of Queerness and Disability (NYU Press) was a nominee for a Lamba Literary Foundation Award and winner of the Alan Bray Memorial Book Award, given annually by the Modern Language Association’s Gay and Lesbian Caucus.
The connections McRuer found between homosexuality and disabilities include a history of being labeled deviant, a desire to challenge what is considered socially “normal,” and a “shared tension” of advocating for both social acceptance and change of societal norms.
McRuer says he hopes readers of his book are left with an understanding of how homosexuality and disability are connected and how the emphasis on “heterosexuality and able-bodiedness” is being challenged. McRuer often discusses these ideas with students in his five classes, an opportunity he deems “dynamic.”
Professor of English Jane Shore’s newest book of poetry, A Yes-or-No-Answer (Houghton Mifflin), explores how her memories of growing up above her parent’s dress shop in New Jersey resonate with her current life as a parent and member of the baby-boomer generation. The book takes its name from the poem title, in which Shore asks a series of rhyming questions with the refrain. “Please answer the question yes or no.” The other poems chronicle the emotional collision of Shore’s past and future as she watches her daughter examine her old clothes and childhood diary.
Although she had always had a pen in hand, it wasn’t until Shore was in her 30s that she began publishing poetry about her past. “Things I never thought I could write about presented themselves as possible for poetry,” says Shore, who came to GW in 1989 as a Jenny McKean Moore Writer-in-Washington. Shore received the 1977 Juniper Prize for her first book of poems, Eye Level; the 1986 Lamont Poetry Prize for her second book, The Minute Hand; and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for her third book, Music Minus One. A Yes-or-No-Answer was reviewed in April by National Public Radio’s Alan Cheuse.
Shore currently teaches poetry and advanced writing classes at the University and says she finds a great balance between teaching and writing. “When I’m not writing, I get to read poetry daily and share something with my students that is my first love and at the core of my nature and interests,” she says. “What could be more wonderful then waking up, going to work, and getting to talk about what you love the most with people who really want to talk about it?”