Hill, a lecturer here at the iSchool, took some time to talk to me on
Valentine's Day about how his first year of teaching here is going,
and what he does when he's not chained to his desk.
For those who don't
know, Trent is a recent graduate of the iSchool, finishing his MLIS
in the spring of 2002. However, he isn't new to the world of teaching.
Before enrolling at the iSchool, Trent taught as a graduate student
in the early '90s at Duke University, which lead to a post-doctoral
teaching position at Clemson University in South Carolina until 2000.
He holds a Ph.D. in English literature and taught classes at Clemson
on literary criticism.
I asked him how
teaching at Clemson differed from the atmosphere at the iSchool. "It's
night and day!" he replied without hesitation. "The atmosphere
at the iSchool is much more collegial than any place else I've ever
been. The administration is extremely supportive. Mike [Eisenberg],
if you're reading this, I'm not kissing your ass!" he laughed.
"Seriously, there is less of a division, and I feel like we're
all colleagues. I felt that as a student, and I still feel it as faculty."
Trent has a long-time
love for music. He has played guitar since the 1980s, and has also experimented
on and off with the violin. He told me he started off playing "arty
folksongs in coffee houses," which somehow lead to his involvement
in a band called "Blue Chair" from about 1987-1992. "We
were influenced by King Crimson and the Minutemen. I'd like to think
that I was channeling Jeff Buckley, but when I listen to the recordings
I realize that I just sounded like Kermit The Frog. I was totally trying
to sing out of my range."
Trent brings his
interest in music to many aspects of his work. His most recent article,
"Why Isn't Country Music 'Youth' Culture?" appears in the
book Rock Over the Edge: Transformations in Popular Music Culture
(2002) and is available through the UW Libraries. He wrote freelance
record reviews for Rolling Stone in the early '90s and cites Lester
Bangs as an "early intellectual influence."
Trent has done
quite a bit of traveling to places in Europe, such as England, Belgium,
and his "spiritual home," The Netherlands. He married in 1999.
He and his wife, Melinda, honeymooned in Spain. When he has time, Trent
also takes part in randonneuring, an endurance bicycle sport where the
challenge is to cover 100-600 km in a set period of hours.
As we brought the
interview to a close, I wanted to know why I should take LIS 537 (Construction
of Indexing Languages) from him, which is offered this spring and spring
2004. "Well, I've taken it, of course. Our group got a really good
sense of how not to create a thesaurus-we were sort of the 'scared straight'
group. It's also good practical experience. A lot of job listings ask
for people who can build ontologies and controlled vocabularies. It's
very do-it-yourself, and you develop an appreciation for the tools."
Finally, I asked
Trent to tell me a little bit about his history and personal life. "I
was raised in Kannapolis, North Carolina, the hometown of Dale Earnhardt
and George Clinton."
of Funkadelic?" I asked.
I think it's an absolute crime that they don't have a statue of him
anywhere in the whole town!" he laughed. Trent still strongly identifies
with his Southern roots: "I couldn't be more southern if I was
dipped in lard and deep-fried."