David Blakesley gladly became a Tiger when he accepted the Campbell Chair in Technical Communication
By Stephanie Firth
David Blakesley showed up to his first class at Clemson in a dress shirt with an orange tie and wearing a watch with an orange Tiger Paw face. Upon introducing himself to the class, he said that he had bought the tie immediately after he was informed that Clemson had accepted his application for the Campbell Chair in Technical Communication, and he was expected to start this fall.
Two months into the semester, Blakesley is still excited to be at Clemson and eager to contribute. He had previously been the director of professional writing and a professor of English at Purdue University, but Clemson managed to snag him.
“Clemson is a top university; more important though, the English department and graduate programs in rhetorics, communication and information design are well known throughout the country,” said Blakesley.
As a holder of an endowed chair, Blakesley is thrilled to work with Clemson to create new projects that will benefit Clemson students and faculty alike. He hopes to create something he calls a “Book Lab” to offer assistance to anyone who is working on publishing. He envisions it as a resource that would also give students and faculty a chance to work together.
“I want to give people a chance to learn these things and help get their feet in the door,” said Blakesley.
As a new faculty member at Clemson, Blakesley immediately noticed the authenticity of school pride on campus. Even though he had taken the time to purchase Clemson paraphernalia, he didn’t realize “Solid Orange Fridays” are taken very seriously by the majority of students. He thinks the pride is a great thing, though, backed up with good students, faculty and football.
“The attitude is expressed more often and genuinely here than what I’ve seen previously,” he said. “Pride motivates people to excel.”
Blakesley teaches one course this semester, “Future of the Book,” for both undergraduates and graduate students. He will be teaching a graduate course next semester on rhetorician Kenneth Burke. Blakesley is involved in another interesting thing — his own publishing company.
Since late 2002, Parlor Press has been an official, independent scholarly publisher. Blakesley had extensive experience in editing by working as a series editor for Southern Illinois University Press for several years. This experience prompted his interest in starting a publishing company to give new scholars a chance to publish.
Blakesley says new scholars encounter three hurdles they must overcome: University presses have been squeezed by the economy, so they are publishing fewer monographs, with a preference for well-known authors; the forms of scholarly communication have changed dramatically; and readers have changed how and what they read.
At the same time, print-on-demand was growing in popularity. Blakesley thought he would create Parlor Press and take a chance on publishing “good, new authors who contribute to scholarship.”
He worked to create a good reputation for Parlor Press; the press is now taken seriously in the fields of rhetoric and composition, visual rhetoric, poetry, and other fields in the humanities.
“To make quality writing and knowledge available to students” is one of the goals of Parlor Press, along with “helping people achieve that goal for themselves.”
Blakesley has tremendous enthusiasm for Clemson and the campus culture, but his primary focus is to contribute to Clemson.
“I want to work with my colleagues in making the humanities at Clemson University as strong as possible,” he said.