Who I am, Wer ich bin

Who am l?

I am a 37 year old husband and father of two with a background in literature and teaching, with a master’s degree and as of yet incomplete doctoral dissertation in German Studies (on the topic of masculine imagery in early East German fiction). Fascinating, isn’t it? Yeah, me neither.

As far as the German goes, it has to do with my heritage. German was spoken in my house when I was very young and when my great-grandmother, whose English was limited, stayed with us. I was also very close to my maternal German grandmother. Because of that experience, I always felt I had a knack for not just that language, but as it turns out, I’ve done well with every other language I’ve ever studied (French, Spanish, Latin, Russian and Turkish). Not that I speak any of them worth a whit anymore (aside from the German, in which I’m near-native), but I’m a language lover and I believe that language people have a real interesting take on how words work in general.

I grew up in a medium-sized town in Arkansas, but I’ve lived all over since heading off to college. Growing up, I was popular, but a bit (understatement) of a geek. I liked to read a lot, reading everything from classical literature to fantasy, I was into science-fiction, I played role-playing games with my friends and I was a whiz on the computer. In fact, in elementary school I had taught myself how to program BASIC on our old ATARI 400 when I was about six and it’s still sort of a wonder to me why I never pursued a career in technology. I’ve since fallen way behind the cutting edge, but I still can do some coding and design.

I now live in Nashville, Tennessee.

Education and Career

I started at a small liberal arts college in Arkansas before moving on to the University of Texas to finish my undergraduate degree in 1996. I had started as a Spanish/English double major, but switched over to German and Linguistics after my freshman year and never looked back. Since I was 12 and started the 7th grade, I had always fantasized about being a teacher. Back then, it was a dream of becoming a band director, but that later switched to English teacher, then finally to German teacher.

During my master’s program, which I completed in 2000 at Middle Tennessee State, I did everything to complete my teaching certification except for student teaching. This was because I had chosen to go on and work on a doctoral degree at Penn State University. As I stated before, the dissertation still is a work in progress, but I completed all of the coursework involved including a doctoral minor in Literary Criticism, Theory and Aesthetics.

During all of this time, I acquired 12 years of experience teaching German language, history and culture and Comparative Literature at the college level.


As an obvious consequence of my education, I’ve also had a lot of experience writing in an academic style and have had two book reviews published and have presented papers at academic conferences.

But I don’t just write academically, though I appreciate the challenge that that offers. I’m also an avid blogger and a quick look over my posts here at Crashwords will show a range of writing on various topics, from a casual rant/rave about Social Media and gaming, to book reviews written to a casual audience, to parenting stories, to semi-academic questioning of gendered artifacts in mainstream culture, to a potato salad recipe. I’m aware that being one of the big blogs means picking a topic and just writing about that, but this is a place for me to showcase some of my writing at various levels as well as a place for self-expression.

I write fiction in the same vein that I read it: eclectically. I enjoy the extra work and the deep thought it takes to craft so-called literary fiction with an emphasis of character depth and psychology, but I also like to get down and dirty with plot as one would expect in genre fiction. Topically, I basically like everything from the classical Bildungsroman to zombie/sci-fi/fantasy/horror stuff. I’ve not yet tried to hone and publish anything, but that day is coming. I’ve also been known to infrequently tinker with poetry.


Nowadays, I’m still teaching and writing whenever and as much I can. The experience that I gained during all of my academic work has given me a pretty unique perspective into how to communicate with people. Seriously, if you want to know how to talk to someone so they’ll understand, try teaching something esoteric and not immediately relevant to disinterested undergraduate students enrolled in a course that they have to take.

It’s that viewpoint that shapes how I see writing. Yes, like every other writer out there, I really dig words and playing with them and making them do what I want them to do, but I believe strongly that words connect people to ideas. Words are social. They have a function beyond just the art form. I think that no matter what the writing is ultimately about, who the audience is, or why it’s being written down in the first place, it’s crucial that words do both.

I’m very good at making those connections.


I can be contacted via the following:

email: robert [dot] dougherty [at] gmail [dot] com orFollow robwdougherty on Twitter @robwdougherty

2 responses

26 09 2010

How’s Boneshaker? I’ve read this and other steampunk novels as well, but my favorite has to be “The Diamond Age” by Neal Stephenson (https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/The_Diamond_Age).

26 09 2010

I started it a couple weeks back and was sidetracked by something else, but I plan on starting it over again this week. The first few chapters I read though were very interesting, but I’m not totally sure on one of the characters. It’s such an interesting setting, though, and Cherie Priest is really on to something with it.

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