Faculty Spotlight: Chris Deguire
By Megan Kirby
Chris Deguire, part-time faculty member in the Creative Writing Department, never plans on slipping Star Wars references in his curriculum—but they tend to sneak in anyway. An avid collector of anything from a galaxy far, far away, he sometimes inadvertently advises Story Workshop students with a tip he learned from a wrinkled green mentor: “You must unlearn what you have learned before.”
Now, Deguire puts his Jedi knowledge to literary use in his upcoming memoir, I’ve Got a Bad Feeling About This, forthcoming from Wicker Park Press. The book began as an examination of his expansive Star Wars collection, which started in 1978 when he received an R2D2 action figure.
“I got one of the robots, my brother got the other,” he says. “It’s all been downhill from there.”
But then again, maybe it’s uphill: a gradual ascent toward understanding money, family, and obsessions—all themes discussed in the memoir.
“It covers a lot more ground than I originally thought it would,” he admits.
In the days before DVRs, Deguire rewrote episodes of his favorite TV shows. (He specifically mentions The Hulk starring Lou Ferrigno.) He went to the movies with his family and began a life-long love of cinema. He devoured novel adaptations of popular films, and he found a common thread linking together his love of movies, television, and writing: the story. Today, his writing still revolves around pop culture, from Rocky Horror Picture Show to Judas Priest.
“Some aspect of movies or music is somehow at the core of what’s going on in my stories,” he says.
Deguire has been a part of the Columbia College Chicago community for 20 years, starting as a student. He received his BA in fiction writing in 1996, his fiction MFA in 2008, and his MFA in creative writing in 2010. Along the way, he began appearing on the other side of the lectern, working extensively with the fiction-tutoring program, and serving as faculty advisor of the fiction student board. For the last four years, he’s also served as the assistant artistic director for Columbia’s notorious Story Week.
He began teaching at Columbia in 2007, while still enrolled as a grad student—but he already had more than 8 years experience explaining the Story Workshop approach through tutor training. Today, he teaches multiple classes, including Fiction 2 and Prose Forms.
“I don’t consider this a job,” he says. “This is where I come to hang out and talk about writing and literature.”
If Deguire found his voice in pop culture, he found his home in Columbia College.
“I feel like this is my family,” he says. “I don’t do any of this stuff for money. I do it because it’s fun and I enjoy it. I think that’s the spirit of this department.”