#FacultyFriday Spotlight: Joshua Zimmerman


Published: May 18, 2018 by Katie Kuryla 

Getting to know our faculty

What really makes Josh’s research methods class great, is the professor himself. He is an excellent lecturer and his class was by far one of my favorites. While he will tell you in his answers below that he never imagined that he would be helping improve writing of graduate students, he not only helped my writing but he improved my focus on my research topic that I’ve been trying to get across in all my papers in my classes. While his quote from his #FacultyFriday photo talks about him learning new topics and new takes on old topics from his students, it has been his enthusiasm that I felt I learned so much in his class. I’m sure there have been other students who have felt this way too.

And if by chance, you haven’t taken research methods,  he also teaches the Advocacy and the Professional Image of Archivists in Pop Culture. It’s a one credit MARA elective course that when asked to describe it, he asks “What does a Nicholas Cage movie, candles, wine, and a medical journal have in common? They all portray or use archives or archivists in some way in order to sell or promote products.”

In a way to help get us to know our faculty, Josh has answered some of our questions. Read on to learn more about Joshua Zimmerman.

What are 3 interesting facts about yourself that don’t have anything to do with school related topics?

Interesting facts. Hmm. Maybe more odd. I took a mandatory Hunting Safety Course in Middle School in my hometown. This included trapping and running a trap line. Everybody had to take this one-week course, even the preppy kids that would never ever go hunting in their lives. Also, the whole school got two days off for hunting season. I never really took note until I left the area. I swear I’m not some Jeremiah Johnson type figure or anything.

I was diagnosed with Dyslexia (and dysgraphia and something else too) when I was a kid. Spelling, writing, and reading was a challenge for me (sometimes it still is). If you told the 10-year-old me that someday I would be teaching graduate students and helping them improve their writing, I wouldn’t have believed you one bit.

I’m currently learning Icelandic. Sadly, my teacher is leaving Seattle at the end of the month. She’s retired and is moving back to Iceland. Who’s going to correct me when I mispronounce my ö’s and au’s? Who’s going to step in when I call an appelsína an apple (it’s actually an orange)? I’m reading remedial children’s books now. Hopefully, by the end of the month, I’ll have enough of a base to go on and continue.

Why do you teach?

Great question! I think the main reason why I teach is the fact that I’ve had some really good professors (now mentors) in the past. At Penn State and Western Washington University, I had professors who both supported and challenged me (Rand Jimerson, Beth Joffrion, and Jackie Esposito). I’ve also had a lot of formal/informal mentors (Diana Banning and Terry Baxter in particular). I guess I want to pay that forward, if you like, to the next generation of archivists and records professionals.

Another big reason is that I learn so much from students. Each fall I get to learn about new topics or new takes on old topics. I also get to witness students grow even within the short timeframe of a semester. It’s really satisfying.

How would you describe your profession?

I’m kind of a “Josh-of-all-trades” if you like. My day job forces me to know about a lot of different things from a lot of different fields. I wear both the archivist’s and the records manager’s hats. I do retention schedules and archival outreach (here’s our newest effort at the Archdiocese of Seattle: Instagram seattle.archdiocese.archives). I process permanent records and train staff on setting up office file plans. I guess you could say that doesn’t really make me an expert at all! Maybe not being an expert is my expertise. Ha! This wide reading jack-of-all-trades mentality does help in MARA 285 where students are writing/researching about a wide variety of topics.

Your motto in life?

Wow. I’ve never really thought about a motto before. Maybe: stay curious! I guess you could say I’m always curious about learning new things (or new to me things). I’ll go in phases when I do a “deep dive” into something. Then I’ll move on to something else. I love to do this with countries or areas.

What are some of your hobbies?

I like to make things. I started making wine a few years ago. I even have a small vineyard in my small backyard where I grow Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes for sparkling wine. I also make cheese though less frequently now. I’ve limited it to only Father’s Day (with my kids) and in the fall if I can. I think for this Father’s Day, it will be some form of easy peasy goat cheese. Recently, I’ve also gotten into DIY perfumery and making fragrances. This is much more forgiving than wine making and cheese making. I can screw up and not ruin a whole batch of wine or pounds of cheese! I can do it all year round as well.

What is your favorite television show?

I’ll answer this as “current” favorite. My current favorite television show is a 2008 series called “Around the World in 80 Gardens.” I watch it while I run on the treadmill in the mornings. Famous Brit Gardener, Monty Don, goes around the world exploring different gardens. It’s a great mix of culture, history, botany, and landscape architecture. He’s great! He has another show currently on Netflix where he works with regular people and helps them design gardens in small spaces.

What is the last book you read?

It was Kindred by Octavia Butler. She’s a great author and the premise for this book (time travel/family history/slavery) was especially interesting to me. I’m currently reading the Autograph Man by Zadie Smith. I really like her other books so I thought I’d give this one a try. I’m also reading a Jo Nesbø book. He writes or is at least well known for his detective series.

Do you have a guilty pleasure?

Jelly beans. Pretzels. Chips. Basically crunchy salty things. Well, those and stinky cheese, but there’s no guilt there! My 7-year-old son is also a stinky cheese fan. We’re like a two-person cheese gang. We call ourselves the “cheese brothers.” We have a handshake.


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