Margaret Shannon
Professor, English

Contact LAC, P-131A

I was born and raised in San Pedro, that beautiful town over the bridge. I love the fact that the world backs up into our backyard here in Long Beach and the Port of Los Angeles, and I am very proud to work in one of the most diverse cities in the United States of America. At this critical juncture of the 21st century, where Ray Kurzweil says we will see 20,000 years of change in the next 100 years, I think the harbor area is perfectly slated to create the kinds of leaders and thinkers we will need for sustainable futures across all disciplines. After 17 years at Long Beach City College, I am more excited than ever to be working alongside world-class colleagues who, alongside our dynamic student body, do indeed make a global impact on a diverse and ’shrinking’ world.

Reading and writing literally ’saved’ my life, so mostly I am a reader, made and sustained by the written and spoken word. I talk a lot because I love words and communication, and as a professor – schooled by some of the best teachers around, including the famous rhetorician Joseph M. Williams and poet-feminist Adrienne Rich — I love to think out loud in class and rethink my position on any subject in front of my brilliant and brave students. The four fields I specialized in at The University of Chicago, where I earned my MA and PhD, are still among my favorite fields to study and read:  African-American Literature, 19th-century American Literature, Gothic Literature, and Women’s Literature. I wrote my doctoral dissertation on the circus as a form of discourse, and not just because I was once engaged to a circus acrobat who remains my friend; I love the study of circus in literature, film, and the ‘real world’ because it brings together a number of my favorite fields and topics: the economic severance of “family” from the “marketplace;” the patriarchal “ordering” of seemingly everything; the rise of textual hegemony and the subjugation of embodied ways of knowing the world – a wonderful range of topics that get me thinking about how we become what we are in our culture, time, and place.  

Issues of race, class, and gender greatly interest me in my reading and ongoing study, as does the role of the written word in the necessary rise of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math).  I greatly enjoy helping students who are gifted in math and spatial reasoning find their voice in the written word. I find that when students of all backgrounds and disciplines commit to topics that interest them or pull them toward “the fierce urgency of now” (King), they not only write better, they are better outfitted to positively change their lives and their world.

I mostly teach argument and composition at LBCC because that is where the majority of the students enter our English Department offerings. I also try to request a special section of English 2, focusing on African-American Literature, a body of works that I find particularly liberatory and revelatory for our times. 

Outside of teaching, I try to find time for my two daughters, who are, of course, my central joy in this life. We love to eat out, hang out, talk about everything under the sun. They are my “grad school” education! To clear my mind, I also run. I’ve run over 50 full marathons and many half marathons and am still in the process of running the 50 states in the U.S.A (Nine states to go in this 50-state quest!). With my knees cracking some now, I have slowed down a lot, but I’m happy that I have completed some of the best marathons in the nation, including the Boston Marathon and the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C. I enjoy talking with my Veteran students about the changes in heart and mind I underwent while running such marathons as the U.S. Air Force Marathon in Ohio. Like my students and books, distance running has shaped me greatly, and I hope to run literally to my dying day! I invite my former and current students to look for me one day on the Great Wall of China (marathon), as I run six of the seven continents into the sunset of this great, long life. 

To make sure I have a great time traveling the states and the world, I love the study of languages besides English. The only language I can really speak (besides English) is Modern Greek. With time and more travel, I would like to work on the French, German, and Spanish I have studied. Recently, I took a mini-course in Mandarin Chinese, but I think I better travel to China to really start on that language. I love when my international students, from Thailand to Ethiopia to Lebanon, stay in touch and tell me about their families, culture, and homelands. 

This college has given me my finest education — better than the two top-10 schools I attended: Pomona College in Claremont, CA (BA) and the University of Chicago (MA and PhD). I truly feel that between our exemplary students and our stellar faculty and offerings, there is no better place to start your higher education than Long Beach City College! I am grateful to complete my education here and look forward to meeting you soon!