Stories We Tell, Part 1

Stories we tell. I edited Telling Stories Out of Court for Cornell University Press, though I knew little of narrative or narrative theory that besides the ideas reflected in James Phalen‘s scholarlly work.

Make Shift Mug Shut of RPM Sep 2011
“SECURITY ELERT:: If University of Delaware Professor Rudolph  P. Matthee attempts to enter the Graduate Center, he should be  stopped and asked where he is going.  The lobby desk officer will confirm the event or appointment and then notify me. FYI, Mathee may try to enter by showing University of Delaware ID, a Delaware drivers license or a New Jersey drivers license.  FYI, there is no threat of violence and this should be handled with tact and professionalism.  Please inform all officers under your supervision.  Thanks.  Description: ·        White Male ·        57 y/o, DOB 11/18/53 ·        5’10” ·        170 lbs. ·        Brown Hair ·        Blue Eyes ·        May be wearing glasses.   Director of Security & Public Safety 365 Fifth Avenue”

In fact, Telling Stories Out of Court was my second book about getting folks to face discrimination, or walk the walk through fiction and creative non-fiction yet I was unclear why Ohio State Law School and Phelan‘s narrative project as well as disability studies literature professors, namely Brenda Bruggeman and Stephen Kuusisto found this fledgling genre worthy of exploring more at a conference. Initially, I asked Stephen to write all the creative non-fiction I would set to law by writing essays that showed you had the law had unfolded as it was or was not executed and implemented. Stephen convinced me that asking WwD (read writers with disabilities) was a better idea since there were so many talented writers out there.

With the book Voices from the Edge: Narratives About the Americans with Disabilities Act out we began planning a comprehensive conference uniting law, literature, and creation fiction and non-fiction writing in 2005.

Then. in February 2006, two months before my partner of 23 years revealed he was “running off with his subject” (read Persia though this country is not on a contemporary map) as one of our trusted colleagues and friends who knew both of us explained. While I was consumed with the paperwork for interview and landing us two paper offers in the same city, since we had two young sons, 7 and 9, he had been having an affair for months, hired a lawyer, drafted the Property Settlement Agreement I would sign upon his request (after giving more money than was originally proposed). I interviewed and got the offer from University of Delaware on 2 hours of sleep.

After over 20 years of having our work spread out from University of Newark to New York City, I had offers from Delaware to University of Massachusetts, Amherst and back again at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York meant we had options. After negotiating for my first tenure track position at University of Denver, back then I had options for both of us as well. While writing my dissertation as we traveled for two years finding documents for his dissertation, I asked the American Studies crowd in the Netherlands what were my chances of getting employment. The man didn’t even laugh, he sat down and said this was 100% certainty never to happen. No American would be hired in American Studies when there were 5 great white men waiting in line for the 5 positions.

Back then, like now, I knew (but not really knew) the power of stories.

So abruptly in 2006, I had to drop everything and hustle to hide mine for fear of harming our two beloved sons. Today, I can see the violence I was about to experience for the next 14 years had a history, a precursor.

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About Professor Ruth O'Brien

Professor Ruth O'Brien, The Graduate Center, The City University of New York (CUNY) & Honorary Unaffiliated Academic Book Series Editor for The Public Square, Princeton University Press & Heretical Thought, Oxford University Press, USA Last book: Out of Many, One: Obama & the Third American Political Tradition (U of Chicago 2013). Nickname: Professorette by Rush Limbaugh (see http://www.gc.cuny.edu/Faculty/Core-Bios/Ruth-O-Brien)