Morgan C. Leckie comes to us from Miami of Ohio’s graduate program in Composition and Writing, by way of California. Her research is on digital feminist rhetorical practices and reproductive justice advocacy. She will be teaching first-year writing and professional writing, including Jacket Copy Creative, our department’s immersive learning class that functions as our in-house PR firm.
How would you describe your perspective on teaching? On learning?
I get really bell hooks about this topic. “Teaching is an act of love.” I can’t help but agree with her on that. I believe learning is change. Education is revolution. For me, my own education quite literally changed my socio-economic identity. But it also made me more compassionate, more easily willing to interrogate my own privilege and perspectives. When I think back along the winding trajectory of my own learning, I am struck by the teachers whose belief in me and whose own willingness to transgress, to love, essentially, shaped the women and teacher I am now. So when I teach and learn with my students, I am always feeling love for them, for my own journey, and for the process of changing us all into better citizens of the world. Deep, I know! 🙂
Who are your biggest role models in life?
Probably Leslie Knope. And Sojourner Truth. And my ma and pops. All people who learned and taught the lesson: It’s what you do with and how you do without.
What is a text you think everyone should read?
At first I thought–“I don’t think I could ever find something I believe everyone should read,” but then I remembered, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. At my undergraduate institution, Cal Poly University in California, the classrooms in our department building had framed quotations by literary figures on the walls. And I remember sitting in an American lit class–probably 2004–and being struck by the words of Toni Morrison: “A novel should be both irrevocably beautiful and undeniably political.” Or something close to that. I have never been able to find that quotation, despite several google searches over the years.
The point is, my ideas about what makes texts worth reading are those two crucial qualities. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is not a novel, it is one part autobiography, two parts feminist recovered biography, and the rest activist research in aching prose; but it is as powerfully beautiful as it is powerfully political. And it reminds me that research projects can become journeys for justice, searches for the lost and silenced voices of a racist, sexist culture. So yeah, everyone should read The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. It has been a pretty important text to me for the past seven years–as a feminist researcher and believer in public intellectualism/gorgeous storytelling that changes hearts and minds.
Are you working on any projects at the moment?
I am! Currently, I am working to finish my doctoral dissertation research and, as far as research goes, it’s a pretty cool project. I have spent the past five years researching and writing about women’s subversive ways of advocating for reproductive justice in the United States, from the Comstock Law of 1789 to the current debates over Planned Parenthood funding. So I get to spend part of my first year here at Ball State coding and writing up data on Planned Parenthood clinic sites and feminist Twitter hashtags. It’s a pretty great hobby. 🙂
Why did you decide to do the work you are doing now?
I suppose the answer to that begins with a dream or promise I made to myself in the seventh grade. I really was a kid made out of indelible American hope, watching the short-lived, but profoundly influential (pretty much only in my world) television show, Class of ’96.
Just look at that opening! You can probably tell that this overly-sentimental series was a little bit like 90210 Dead Poet’s Society. But for a kid who didn’t know anyone who’d actually gone to college, it made academia mean something–a quest, a thrill, a life-long pursuit of some vague, valuable, transcendent thing. It was a thing I wanted, sitting there cross-legged at the glass coffee table with a t.v. dinner and faded K-mart jeans, hole in the knee. I remember looking around and realizing that my folks, my tribe, if you will–parents and aunts and uncles and nanas and kin stretching as far back as I could see–well, they were all workers, not thinkers. Painting houses and punching time cards and ignoring, for the most part, things like poetry and politics. Then, once a week, my family and my circumstances would come into a sharp contrast with the lovely Ivy League smiles of the class of 1996, Havenhurst University.
I didn’t know how difficult it would be, but I was going to be one of them – one of those interesting, cultured, extraordinary professors I saw on my T.V. That dream has changed a lot since my first nebulous ideas about what being an academic and intellectual means. But truly, my desire to think about the world critically and compassionately and earn the right to do that thinking publicly in order to advocate for working poor, women, people of color. . .that still drives me today as I teach and research.
What is most important to you?
Sounds kinda cheesy, but my daughters and partner, my sister and parents–they and my relationships with them, the time I spend knowing them well–are the most important priorities to me.
Second would probably be pizza. 😉
Do you have any special interests/hobbies?
In my very, very, very limited Moe time (as I call it) I can be found driving to photograph Planned Parenthood clinics, tending to my small urban garden, refinishing Goodwill furniture, or writing creative non-fiction and making killer playlists on my patio (so hip!). Though I miss my home in California, I really love my new home here in Muncie, too and believe in local activism and community engagement. One of my most fulfilling hobbies is using my design, writing, and social media knowledge to produce work for non-profit and citizen activist groups.
Because I believe in public education very deeply, I have put a lot of energy into advocating for Muncie Community School District, which is struggling against state and local funding issues. I have a long history of in-the-streets activism as well and try to show up for women’s marches, BLM demonstrations, and trans and queer advocacy. Because I worked for many years on Equality California’s campaign for marriage rights and currently research the importance of social justice rhetorics, I understand and have seen how crucial it is to make advocacy a hobby.