Chris Buczinsky
About me
Director of the CCSJ's English program and chairman of the Liberal Arts Department, professor Buczinsky is a generalist with interests in 20th-century poetry, the personal essay, children's books, the Roman classics, and outsider art. An essayist, folk artist, and children's poet, Professor Buczinsky divides his time between teaching, writing, and painting. He has written, illustrated, and self-published one collection of poems and pictures for children called Pied Poetry, and he has published in a variety of scholarly and popular venues. He teaches The Literary Essay, 20th Century Poetry, British Literature, and Literary Criticism and Theory. He is currently at work on several writing and painting projects. You can view his art at
Educational Background
Professor Buczinsky attended Northwest Nazarene College in Nampa, Idaho, starting out as a Philosophy and Religion major. His interest in the Biblical foundations of Christian faith led him to the study of literature and literary theory. He transferred to Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Arizona where he earned his BA in English Education, taught high school English, studied French, and then, in 1994, he earned his doctoral degree in English from Northwestern University, with a specialty in 19th-century British literature. His doctoral dissertation explored the early sea novels of Joseph Conrad.

Calumet College of St. Joseph Homepage


Spring 2014 Courses

English 112 The Literary Experience
Using Western classics and contemporary short stories and poems, this course introduces students to the literary experience, the art of reading stories and poems for insight into life. Focusing on three themes—the loss of innocence, the conflict between rebellion and conformity, and the nature of love—it teaches students the elements of fiction and poetry, and it gives them the interpretive skills needed to deepen their experience of great literature. Students study the arc of Western literary history and examine the role of stories and poems in creating oneself and in living a meaningful life.

English 325 The Literary Essay
The Literary Essay is an advanced English composition course founded on the close-reading and stylistic analysis of classic literary essays. Using the essays as examples of English style and as models for their own writing, students learn to write technically proficient, rhetorically sophisticated, and stylistically pleasing essays. Using a variety of traditional and writing workshop methods, students develop a portfolio of revised and polished work. To pass the course, all students must pass a sequence of grammar and sentence construction tests.

Recent Papers, Publications, and Helpful Links

“Humanities, Not Harvard” (with Robert Frodeman). Inside Higher Ed, posted April 30, 2013 at

“Linking Classes: Learning Communities, ‘High’ Culture, and the Working Class Student (with Ginger Rodriguez), Learning Communities Research and Practice 1, no. 2 (Spring 2013).

“In the Shadows of BP: Teaching Humanities to Underprepared Students” (with Ginger Rodriguez). Indiana Humanities website, posted June 2012 at

Prof. Buczinsky's Blog

Zombie Prose


Teaching students to write essays is all about fighting zombie prose.

Zombie prose is prose that walks around like it’s alive; it isn’t. It can be grammatically correct, impeccably organized and transparently clear, so it has legs, but it has no heart, nothing pumping in the chest.

Zombie prose doesn’t move us because the writer himself is not moved. He fails to muster the force needed to project himself into the words, so they die on the vine. Zombie prose is written by zombies.

Zombies are “in” right now because they speak to a common condition, an alienation from experience, from the ground of Being itself. Likewise, students write zombie prose because they’re not fully invested either in what they’re writing about or in the process of writing itself.

When I draw a zombie on a student’s paper, the student knows that he has written zombie prose and that the antidote can’t be found in a writing handbook. The student knows he has to find the heartbeat, the living flesh, the pulse of experience itself if he wants his paper to live.

The Virgin of Guadalupe

This past summer I took a trip to Santa Fe, New Mexico, and I spent a morning sketching the Virgin of Guadalupe at her shrine there. It was peaceful, quiet, and serene, and as I sketched the believers came and placed their flowers and offerings and griefs at her feet. And I thought of the words of Queen Elizabeth about the Virgin in Elizabeth, the 1998 film: “She had such power over men’s hearts. They died for her.”

Winter Break Sketching


Over the Christmas Break, I spent my mornings at Starbucks prepping for classes and working on my pen and ink sketches. I loved trying to capture the customers all bundled up in their winter hats and coats. The longer the line for the lattes, the easier it was to make the drawing! Like writing in a journal, keeping a sketchbook helps you focus on the world. It’s a sort of technology of attention, the form itself giving birth to images you might never have if you allowed them merely to strike the eye and fade away.


Please don’t hesitate to contact me.
My office hours for Spring 2014 Semester are:

Mondays: 8:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.
Tuesdays: 8:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.
Wednesdays: 8:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. AND 3:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m.
By Appointment
Phone: (219) 473-4250

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