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Humans of Drake: Marcia Keyser

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Highlighting the stories of Drake students and faculty.

BY HALLIE O’NEILL

Drake librarian Marcia Keyser calls herself an introvert. But for an introvert, she talks a lot about being fascinated with people.

Most prominently, this interest emerges in the course she’s teaching this semester: Information Literacy and the Walking Dead. Although she’s not usually a fan of the post-apocalyptic or undead genres, she likes the AMC hit show because it focuses on human nature.

“The point of the show has never been, ‘Let’s go kill zombies,’” Keyser said. “It’s been ‘How do we survive?’”

Sitting in her desk chair in front of a dramatic, black-and-white poster of one of the show’s main characters, she talked about the conception of the cross-disciplinary course.

“It was an idea I came up with last year, realizing that as you see this group of people try to survive in this bizarre type of future America, there’s a bunch of practical questions that pop out of the narrative,” Keyser said. “So, I’m teaching my students this semester to focus on those practical questions, and then we go look them up. And we’ve covered things from political science to basic physics to health care, like can you really survive off of old canned goods? We really don’t know.”

Along with teaching, working and watching the Walking Dead, Keyser’s weekly routine often includes at least two Taekwondo classes, an art she was recently inspired to master after watching the action in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

“(I like) the roughness of it,” Keyser said. “In the rest of life, we’re always being gentle with each other and never touching each other. You know, if you’re walking down the hall and you bump somebody it’s always like, ‘Oh, I’m sorry, I’m sorry!’”

Taekwondo provides for Keyser a divergence from this daily cautiousness. Along with allowing her to be rough, Taekwondo also functions as a way for Keyser to meet new people and work out. She enjoys the sport’s lack of music, which she says is a new and more relaxed ambience from her previous exercise methods.

“I went through the aerobics craze in the 80s, and I got over that,” Keyser said with a laugh. “Anything that resembles an aerobics class, I’m getting out of there. I just can’t stand it anymore.”

She also loves to read. She normally reaches for a specific type of literature that, unsurprisingly, revolves around human beings.

“I don’t do mystery or romance or that sort of thing, so basically literature that’s written about people in any time period as long as it’s written in-depth, not superficially,” Keyser said. “I know what I like, I can usually find it, and I’ve found that some modern literature devolves into romance really quickly. You get to chapter three and there’s a love interest and you go, ‘Oh no, here we go again.’”

Keyser mentioned many other things that characterize her life like her love for tea, for example. She has two sons, a dog and a husband, whom she met for the first time in a Russian language class. She loves to listen to Celtic rock ‘n’ roll and — perhaps rolling off of the Walking Dead topic — she said she could survive for a few years if she were to be locked up in a cabin with nothing but a supply of food.

Keyser said she’ll spend the rest of her life trying to figure people out. She describes herself as well-educated and curious, both of which inform her outlook on life and her diverse range of interests.

Most of all, however, she isn’t trying to take life too seriously.

“Relax!” she said. “Both for yourself and with other people. Don’t judge yourself or other people, that’s kind of what I’m saying. You’ll get by more comfortably in life.”

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