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Events That Transform Us
Retired professor finds spiritual renewal in building a Japanese teahouse in a Wisconsin woodlotShare Tweet LinkedIn Embed pszr.co/augOk 153 views
|Biography & Memoir|
|3 publishers interested|
At the heart of this kaleidoscopic set of essays, Martin Nystrand offers an absorbing account of his family’s experience with their rural Wisconsin woodlot (their twenty acres), explaining how, over time, he and his wife decided to design and build a remarkable teahouse on their initially wild property. Along the way, he also describes the long arc of his professional life and reflects deeply on the reciprocal, back-and-forth process by which we discover and create meaning in spaces of different kinds – natural, architectural, textual, and pedagogical.
Twenty Acres will help readers meditate on events in their lives that transform ther understandings. it will interest teachers, architects, and environmentalists
“Twenty Acres is a rare and generous memoir. The author uncovers relationships between the
life of the mind and the life of nature, between private experience and professional vocation, and between childhood and older age. It shows how parents, teachers, and others leave trails for the next generation to discover passions. Above all, it testifies to the power of re-enlightenment as a method for recovering history, both personal societal, and pedagogical.”
–Deborah Brandt, Professor Emerita, University of Wisconsin-Madison
“In this remarkable memoir, Nystrand relates his journey of becoming as an educator, scholar,
and designer of indoor and outdoor spaces. Those who admire his studies of classroom discourse will find a richer sense of the person behind the scholar and how he has been shaped by both social and natural environments. His narrative has much to offer anyone who seeks spiritual elevation and transcendence through worldly, constructive activity. This is a warm, lovely, and revealing self-portrait, well worth reading and reflecting on.”
– Peter Smagorinsky, Distinguished Research Professor of English Education, University of
“In this book, renowned writing professor and scholar Martin Nystrand takes you on a
philosophical journey into his mind, life, and work. He has woven together what would seem to be distinctly separate strands of his life and work into one marvelously interconnected whole. Upon reading, you will understand him and his work better, gaining increasingly rich
perspectives on each, and in doing so be moved to reflect on how through life’s contexts we
reconfigure (in his term “re-enlighten”) how and what we know and who we are. Read the book, it’s fascinating!“
– Judith A. Langer, Vincent O’Leary Distinguished Research Professor, University at Albany
“In this autobiographical narrative, Martin Nystrand tells the forty-year tale of his twenty acres set in a rural countryside. In this story, we learn how a world can be transformed as we awaken to the rich complexities of a time and a place. With that dynamic place so re-enlightened, new possibilities arise, symbolized by Nystrand’s teahouse that now graces his woodlot. In this rich, reflective book, Nystrand interweaves his experience at his twenty acres with his career learning to be a teacher and a professor of writing; a text, after all, is its own dynamic space where writers and readers can connect in a world of transformative experiences. To use Nystrand’s words, just as he built a teahouse out of his life resources, so do we all have potential spaces within our own experience to re-enlighten our understandings of ourselves and others. Welcome to the teahouse.”
– Anne Haas Dyson, Professor of Education, University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana
“Just as Nystrand argues that dialogic instruction “construct[s) a narrative of unfolding
understandings involving thoughtful interaction between and among teacher and students”
(Opening Dialogue,”p. 106), so this work unfolds an evolving meditation on the far-reaching
implications of the temporal contingency of language-in-interaction. From the changing legacy of Frank Lloyd Wright to the nature of reciprocity in classroom discourse to a family’s four-decade relationship with a 20-acre woodlot, this account embodies an intellectual, personal, and indeed spiritual commitment to the “sacred nature of interrelationships.”
– Mary Juzwik, Professor of Education, Michigan State University
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