Faculty on Writing

Professor:  Dr. Michael Joy
Department:  Modern Languages (Spanish)
Interviewed By: Ashley Harwood
Date: September 25, 2007

Professor Michael Joy is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Modern Languages.  He has a B.A. from Carleton College and an M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota.  He has only been at NMU for two years.  He frequently teaches SN300 Reading and Writing (three sections this semester) and UN100, which has a writing component.  He hopes to teach a literature course in the future. 

Joy does indeed give writing assignments to his students, and the assignments are always essays.  He begins assigning essays in Spanish to students when they are at the second year level.  To second year and SN300 students, he assigns shorter papers (no more than two or three pages).  He feels it is important to have students write about topics that interest them.  Often he assigns generally relevant topics, topics about pop culture, or other topics that might be of interest to students.  Joy believes in the importance of writing everyday, so during his classes, he usually has students write something such as a journal entry.  These writing samples are not graded, but they force students to write when many students would not write on their own. 

On his students’ writing abilities, Joy believes everyone has potential to write well if enthusiasm for the subject is present.  He is aware that many students do not have much experience writing; they simply do not practice writing enough.  Also, he says many do not revise their writing.  This is something I have been noticing in the Writing Center.  Students will write a paper or an essay and not revise it or even read over it.  Professor Joy knows from experience that it takes much revision to produce a good piece of writing.

Enthusiasm in students’ writing is extremely important to Professor Joy.  He looks for writing that moves quickly, is lively, and captures the reader’s attention.  It is important not to bore the reader, especially if the reader has 80 other essays on the same topic to read.

Joy writes quite often.  He currently writes book reviews but in the past has written some fiction.  He has also written journals and articles, and he is published in Romance Languages Annual volumes 9, 10, and 11. 

Like most writers, Professor Joy is never satisfied with his own writing.  He says he is very critical of it, thinks it is never lively enough or readable, and always wants to revise more.  Joy admits he is a perfectionist when it comes to his writing. 

He believes it is important to know how to write.  When one knows how to write, one knows how to organize thoughts logically.  Writing also forces one to think carefully about a subject. 

Joy has heard of the Writing Center and is an advocate for it.  He mentions it to the students in his UN100 class and says it is a very valuable tool.  He makes sure to tell his students that it is not a place to go for proofreading, but it is a place to go for suggestions.  His students are definitely encouraged to visit the Writing Center. 

The only suggestion Joy offers to improve the Writing Center is more advertising.  He thinks students may not know about it or may just forget it is there.  He says we need to advocate ourselves.

At the end of the interview, I asked if he would like to be quoted and what he would like to say.  After a minute or so of thought, he said, enthusiastically, “The Writing Center should be used by students of all languages!”