Wisdom transferred from the unconventional mind of John Goshert

Wisdom transferred from the unconventional mind of John Goshert
Photo credit: Trent Bates/UVU Review
Photo credit: Trent Bates/UVU Review

Whether you harbor an interest in music, literature or philosophy, chances are that Professor John Goshert can relate to both your passions and challenges through one unorthodox experience or another.

Greatly influenced by the Bay Area scenes of the early seventies and eighties, Goshert immersed himself in the punk rock scene while in high school, a decision he views as being singularly pivotal throughout the course of his life. He has been in nine bands total, Monsula benefitting from the most cultural traction.

“Looking at that from 25 years of reflection, I see that it was a good introduction for me into the sort of intellectual community that I am part of now as an academic,” Goshert said. “The alternative music culture prepares you to be simultaneously part of a community but also your own person.”

In a setting which fostered the integration of genres, Goshert refers to a multitude of musical influences of the time including the prevailing hard rock influence of AC/DC and the avant-garde sound of David Bowie, or less conventionally, The Parliaments and Funkadelic along with local groups like Tower of Power and Special Forces.

The diverse list continues to political hardcore bands like MDC and D.R.I. to bands such as Devo and Adam and the Ants.

“The economic and cultural factors that came together to produce that scene between 1978 and 1990 in the Bay Area simply don’t exist anymore, and the irony is they now exist in places like Salt Lake City, Oklahoma City or Omaha. These are the places where people can afford to live and be creative,” Goshert said.

Goshert suggests that due to the over-accessibility of popular music, people are less inclined to go out and discover new and developing music on the local level.

To properly experience the Utah scene, he suggests visiting small bars where music is the focus, as well as local house parties with live music.

He continued his involvement with music while simultaneously pursuing an education first at the local community college, then Sonoma State University for his B.A. and M.A., and thereafter Purdue University for his Ph.D.

While he originally intended to be an English high school teacher, providence altered his course during his junior year of pursuing his B.A., when he found two books that piqued his interest.

“The first was a work of philosophy by a professor at UC Berkeley and the other was a novel by a Chinese-American writer, and I knew nothing about either of the writers, or the fields or the genres they were working in but there was something that really clicked and at that moment I was like ‘That is what I am going to do,’” Goshert explained.

Having taught English and literature courses at UVU since 2001, Goshert encourages students to take advantage of the small class sizes and accessibility of professors. He also highlights the freedom of attending a university whose reputation is still developing, pointing out that the pressures that exist on more prestigious campuses aren’t present at UVU.

“What has worked for me is experiencing everything, reading everything, being open to everything that comes your way. I think that’s what helps you make your own path through whatever these processes are, and through what these institutions try to force us to be,” Goshert said.

Goshert urges students to improvise in life rather than simply following the dominant cultural message.

Influential book: Crack Wars: Literature Addiction Mania, by Avitall Ronell.

Early influential music: AC/DC, David Bowie, The Parliaments, Funkadelic, Tower of Power, Special Forces, MDC, D.R.I., Devo and Adam and the Ants.

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