Seven Stories Press

Works of Radical Imagination

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9781644212707

A searingly honest graphic memoir dispatch from a community college professor who cares deeply for his students and family while also combating personal health issues from the frontlines of public education during the pandemic.

With Peter Glanting’s powerful illustrations, author Adam Bessie, an English professor and graphic essayist, uses the unique historical moment of the COVID-19 pandemic as a catalyst to explore the existing inequalities and student struggles that plague the public education system. This graphic memoir chronicles the reverberations from the onset of the pandemic in 2020 when students and educators left their physical classrooms for remote learning. As a professor at a community college, Bessie shows how despite these challenges, teachers work tirelessly to create a more equitable educational system by responding to mental health issues and student needs.

From the Black Lives Matter protests to fielding distressed emails from students to considering the future of his own career, Going Remote also tells the personal story of Bessie’s cancer diagnosis and treatment during the pandemic. A fusion of memoir, meditation, and scholarship, Going Remote is a powerful account of a crisis moment in educational history demonstrating both personal and societal changes.

Includes back matter revealing the literary and theoretical touchpoints that inform Going Remote (works by Octavia Butler, Neil Postman, Jaron Lanier, and Diane Ravitch).

Going Remote is a joint production of The Censored Press and Seven Stories Press.

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9781644212707

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“Bessie’s debut graphic memoir of teaching at a community college during the pandemic while undergoing treatment for cancer swells with a determined optimism even while being threaded with dystopian references. . . . Glanting’s drawings are thick with shadow and cyborgian representations of a world isolated by multiple diseases. But as a teacher, Bessie’s idealism holds through, and he ends on an open-ended note — the pandemic still unfurling, his tumor held at bay by an experimental medication. As he writes: “Right now, we’re here,” and that is fragile and poignant enough.”

“On the surface, Going Remote is another addition to the COVID-19 memoir scene, chronicling one community college professor’s experiences teaching remotely during the first two years of the pandemic. There is more here, however. From Bessie’s ongoing experiences of living with cancer, to making sure his son knows the importance of the Black Lives Matter movement, he and cocreator Glanting use the medium to weave together a complex view of life during the last two years. Life isn’t made up of silos and easily separated parts of oneself after all. While the features of remote education play a major role here (Zoom windows are a kind of comic, aren’t they?), the annoyances of technology are less important than what going remote does to the ability to build community and to succeed, particularly for students who are fighting against the flow of an inequitable system. For the philosophically inclined, there is much to enjoy here, and end notes are included to aid in that way of reading. For those who enjoy the process of creating comics, an interview with the creators closing out the book will be of great interest.”

ADAM BESSIE is a community college English professor in the San Francisco Bay Area and writes comics which have been published in many national outlets, including the New Yorker, the Atlantic, the Boston Globe, and the Los Angeles Times. He won the New York Association of Black Journalists 2018 Award for the graphic essay “Betsy Devos’ ‘School Choice’ Movement Isn’t Social Justice. It’s a Return to Segregation” (with Erik Thurman). He lives on the site of a former dynamite factory with his wife and son on the San Pablo Bay.