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Teaching

In “How to Tame a Wild Tongue,” Gloria Anzaldúa declares, “I will have my voice ... I will overcome the tradition of silence.” Though Anzaldúa was writing predominantly in response to the conflicts of language and identity, her message still speaks to the overarching efforts upon which Dr. Varlack has since modeled his approach to teaching: the necessity of crafting one’s individual voice as the gateway to more active participation in the many sociocultural as well as political conversations that now define the modern world. Therefore, during his career in higher education, he has focused his teaching on honing his students' critical and creative voices so that they can effectively engage those real-world issues that they face each day. In his role as an instructor of literature and culture, he strives to guide those efforts, offering frameworks for analytical exploration and discovery so that the students under his care, in the spirit of Alice Walker, do not die with their voices stifled within them.

Simultaneously, he bases his teaching around the notion of access—access to the social, cultural, and historical contexts that shape a rich twentieth-century literary history; access to the formal and linguistic factors shaping the meaning of a literary text; access to the complex approaches to critical and analytical writing; and access to real-world applications of a field with far-reaching and untapped potentialities. Providing students with the skills and the language to not only recognize but respond to the underlying cultural statements of a literary text, he aims to engage students of different backgrounds in a study of literatures that consistently challenge what Chimamanda Adichie terms "the single story."