Bob Thacker claims there were never 13 American colonies; he says 15. Thacker puts this question to students in his Canadian studies classes and explains that the other two colonies were “Nova Scotia and ‘Canada’ – the latter was mostly what is now Quebec,” he says.
“Essentially, the American Revolution created two countries. America went one way and Canada the other,” the Dana professor of Canadian studies says.
Thacker began teaching Canadian studies when he came to SLU in 1983, three years after the program’s creation. Describing Canada as “an alternative North American experience,” Thacker teaches Introduction to Canada and Canadian Fiction.
Thacker connects his passion for Canadian culture to literature through his appreciation of author Willa Cather, who inspired Thacker’s most recent book, Willa Cather: A Writer’s Worlds.
“I would argue she was the first writer of any nationality to seriously and effectively use the prairie/plains landscape as a literary setting, first in 1913 in O Pioneers and best in 1918 in My Antonia,” Thacker argues.
Describing her as the leading novelist of the first half of the 20th century, Thacker puts Cather ahead of Faulkner, Fitzgerald, and Hemingway. “I am a minority amongst some of my colleagues,” he laughs.
Outside the classroom, Thacker has been associate dean for academic advising programs since 2005. He coordinates services such as the Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP), the Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program (C-STEP), the McNair Scholars program and SLU’s office of special needs.
“Everyone should be responsible for themselves, and we’re here to help,” Thacker says of his advising philosophy. Working with transfer students and becoming a crucial part of the First-Year Program team, Thacker watches students mature from the first day.
Regarding the student body, Thacker says, “at best, they’re mature adolescents when they get here, and when they leave they’re young adults, and that’s part of the joy in this.”
—Haley Bourke ‘12