By Shedeiky Hamilton

No vision. No insight. The thought of a profession was echoed by many but the dream of accomplishing a career was far from the mind of Prof. Christopher Loots.

“I didn’t set out at any point as an undergraduate student to become a teacher. I didn’t set out to be anything in the typical sense. I never really understood that question,” he stated.

Loots, a native of Japan, spent most of his childhood and teen years in Norwalk, a small city along the coast of Connecticut. Shortly after graduating high school, he moved to San Francisco with the dream of becoming a rock star, and “just to dive into life.”

“There were many things that I dreamed of becoming, none of them practical, but I went after those that I could achieve in different ways and to different degrees,” he added.

In California, over the course of trying numerous careers and feeling unsatisfied, Loots decided to take classes first at City College of San Francisco, then at San Francisco State University.

Before his experiences in San Francisco, he lacked the drive of a student and had no vision about what it all might be worth, or why he should care, because he was never mentally there.

“When I started taking courses in the City of San Francisco, I was ready for all of it. Part of the difference was that I had found my way to college on my own terms, and for my own reasons,” he stated.

This became a stepping stone for Loots which opened the arena of success not only for his education but also for his intimate relationship.

“My girlfriend at the time, now my wife, was also enrolled at SFSU; it was fun eating chicken gyros on the quad and then going to class together,” he added.

As a result, Loots quickly fell in love with the energy and action of higher education of which he couldn’t get enough.

“I didn’t want it to end.”

The field of English seemed surreal to Loots, because he was able to study, discuss, and write about the massive books and awesome ideas they generated. SFSU professors Michael Zimmerman, Barbara McLaughlin, and Dane Johnson, changed the course of Loots’ life with their words, their insights and their encouragement.

“It’s sometimes silly sounding, talking about inspirational figures and such, but it’s also truth-telling. Eventually it dawned on me that these people were going to retire and someone was going to have to take their place,” he stated.

Loots wanted to be like these professors. He wanted to do for others what they did for him. Most importantly, he wanted their jobs.

This motivation helped Loots to realize that he was now in a position to realize a dream he didn’t have years before now and that his hope of acquiring higher education would be determined by his will to succeed.

“I didn’t want the energy and the action of college to end, and as a college professor, it never does,” he added.

Loots followed this insight and joined the Mercy College English Department in September 2009 where his specialization is in American Romanticism. His focus of American Modernism includes authors like Ernest Hemingway and Gertrude Stein, who are Loots’ favorites of the authors.

“All the periods are very deep and fun to explore. I’m serious, it’s fun! Taking my courses, calling all English majors, you’ll all want to become Americanists before the semester ends from the massive funage,” he smiled. “And yes, I just made that word up.”

In addition to composition courses, Loots expects to teach all the major American periods – Literature to 1820, American Romanticism, American Realism, and American Modernism.

To teach these courses one would get a better insight of the authors by visiting the actual places where they once walked.

Loots visited Paris so that he could experience the Left Bank of Paris’s Latin Quarter, which was where so much of what we call Modern American Literature and a lot of other Modernisms emerged in the first half of the 20th Century.

He strolled all over, tracing paths and visiting haunts written about in books like Hemingway’s “A Moveable Feast.” He had dinner at a place called Polidor Cremerie, because it was a place where Joyce and some other Moderns liked to eat.

“I kept sitting there, thinking and feeling – they once sat here, right here; I’d stand on the doorsteps of these authors’ apartment buildings and think to myself – my heroes once passed this threshold. There really is a power to these historical places, to the reality of what and who happened there,” he added.

It might be all in his head, but to Loots the power and feeling of the still-living meaning of these places is real.

Because of this, Loots would like to fashion an Americanist course involving ideas of travel, immigration, expatriatism, both to and from America, and the eclectic literature that arises from the uncertainty created through such movement and displacement.

Prior to joining the Mercy faculty, Loots worked in a number of odd jobs, lots of retail and basic office-type jobs. He did not have a typical linear college career by going straight to college out of school. He took time to pursue other paths and options.

“I’ve walked a few other professional paths before setting my bag down at a desk over in Maher Hall. Yet being a professor is definitely the path I’m happiest taking.”