Lara Vesta

Assistant Professor
UC Box: 
Bates House 1 (Forest Grove)

Course Information

At Pacific University, all faculty teach a variety of different courses. Typically, we do not use graduate teaching assistants, which means that your classes will be taught by professors and that you will have plenty of opportunities to get to know the faculty in your discipline.

Below I have listed some of the courses that I teach. We are always developing and trying out new classes, so the list may change now and then. You can use the links to the left to read descriptions of the courses listed below.

ENGW 201 | Expos: Explorer of the World

ENGW 355 | Community Stories

Why I teach?

I work in the English department, and my classes carry formal required titles, but they also have secret names: Expository Writing 201 is “How to Be an Explorer of the World” after the book by artist Keri Smith; Literature 220 Cultures and Customs is also “Spirit and the Story," and Fiction Writing is “Introduction to Alchemy.” I love literature and writing. I am a writer, but I think what we learn through the study of literature and writing goes beyond books, connects us to this real life, this real earth, and each other. I guess if I had any goal in my teaching it would be to help my students fall in love with the world, either more deeply or again — because most of us love the world as children — through stories, by sharing in the stories of others, by writing and telling the stories of their own. When we care about the world, when we love our stories, we will work for positive change in the ecologies of our places and families. I am teaching for that change.

Why I study ... what do I study?

Right now I’m studying how to be an explorer of the world for my expository writing class, to be more present and live more deeply, to slow down and love my life right now. I’m studying Ojibwe culture, history and traditions for my literature class, nostalgia for an essay I’m writing, the base elements of fiction craft applied to new stories, my own and my students’, and the significance of roots as metaphor for a workshop I’m teaching for Moon Divas in Boulder, Colo., this October. I am studying what I’m teaching, which are also — oh! — the things I love. I think I mention in every class a quote by the poet Pattiann Rogers, who once announced to a room full of MFA students, “I’m not an expert on anything.” The more we can integrate the lives of our hearts, the rhythm of our personal and passionate curiosity, with our work, the more rich, complex, interesting and fun our days become. Which is why I feel lucky at work every day.

What I would tell a student considering a major in English?

Rumi said, “Let the beauty we love be what we do,” and Mary Oliver asks, “What will you do with your one wild and precious life?” If either of those quotes hold meaning for you with regard to reading and writing and literary engagement, if you get satisfaction from play with language and story, then please please be an English major. Then when you graduate, take a decade or so (before you decide on graduate school) to be an educational assistant, a street performer, a farmer, a city councilor, a land use advocate, a mother or father, a slam poet, a waitress, a chef, a wildlife photographer, a kindergarten teacher. And everywhere you can help others learn about stories and books and language, in unexpected venues. You could be a sort of John Chapman, a legend, only you'll be planting another kind of seed, and everyone will love you because everyone loves a good story, even if they don't make time to read (you could, as an experiment, try this now — tell stories, engage discussion, quote poetry at the supermarket, the gas station, see what happens). I guess what I'm getting at is the knowledge you acquire in your education is for the betterment of the whole world, not just to earn money, pay the mortgage and rot in a cubicle somewhere with your dreams. If you are willing to leap and spread out, to be fearless and serve others, if you live the beauty you love, your dream job will find you.