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Aden Evens ’88 lives a double life—Expos preceptor by day and electronic musician extraordinaire by night. Not unexpectedly, language plays an important role in Evens’ music. The name of his musical collaboration is “Re:” (pronounced “ree colon”) and the name of his new CD is “Mnant” (Con Stella Tion Records, Montreal, Canada). Put the two together and it makes re:mnant. The name of every song is a suffix to re: - scue, -duce, -solute, -cipe, -straint, -buke, -pent, -legate, -volve, -ject, and -gulate. This musical wordplay sits well outside the mainstream, but then again so does its off-beat creator.
Evens’ style of precepting is as unorthodox as his musical style. In addition to transforming fresh-faced frosh into hardened academic writers, Evens also helps his formerly quiet, unassuming, conservative students gain a better understanding of their own bodies. His Expository Writing 20 course “Our Bodies, Our Selves” has been described by the department as one that “will study what bodies do, what we do to them, and where they may be heading (cyborgs, cyberspace).” The subject matter, in addition to Evens’ unique brand of teaching, has made this course infamous among the Class of 2006. Though Expos is commonly referred to as “Sex-pos,” Evens’ class turns the joke into a reality.
For most, the Expos experience is one of laborious attention to the precise formulation of a persuasive conclusion, incredibly intimidating writing conferences and the painstaking evolution from “your” writing to “Harvard” writing. During Evens’ class, however, students received a different kind of education. Kierann E. Smith ’06 asserts, “Never a day went by that penises were not discussed.” Other common topics included virginity, substance-abuse and pre-marital sex. Evens explains, “Bodies are constantly a concern in writing. I am interested in questions of identity incorporated with something not so abstract.”
Evens describes the class as “the most challenging teaching I’ve ever done.” Former student Caitlin B. McKee ’06 recalls, “[Evens] was very liberal and very accepting of the provocative.” With final paper topics that included such atypical subjects as female genital mutilation, finger painting, the beauty myth, penis size and the female orgasm, it’s not surprising that Evens admitted to his student Jason D. Park ’06 during a writing conference, “My goal in life is to escape the boundaries of society.”
The tattooed and body-pierced preceptor’s unconventional style extends to his private life. Evens’ family, which includes wife Sally and two children, has “totally renounced the celebration of holidays.” Away from the classroom, Evens is working on a new book that he hopes will “inaugurate a new field at the intersection of music and technology.” Evens’ project is close to his heart because he envisions it as “a book that doesn’t fit, and I think that I’m a person that doesn’t fit.”
Based on his experiences with Harvard freshmen, Evens worries that “everyone will end up doctors and lawyers.” He muses, “Where are all the artists and poets?” Re: that fear, the expos department is re:ally fortunate to have a preceptor whose perspectives upon everything from feminism to the intersection of music and technology are so re:freshingly re:al.
—M. M. Dolan
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