Anyone who has ever had the pleasure of corresponding with Bob Bockman, a senior legal writing instructor at the University of South Carolina School of Law, knows of his eloquence, his warmth, and his thoughtfulness. His genuine kindness, apparent whether in person or in writing, is just one of the reasons he is very popular among his pupils. So it should come as no surprise that USC Honors College students chose him to to deliver one of the highly esteemed “Last Lectures.”
Bockman will present his speech on Wednesday, Oct. 9 at 7 p.m. in the Gressette Room of Harper College, located on the historic Horseshoe. It is open to the public.
The Last Lecture Series is a program through the Carolina Scholars Program and sponsored by USC Student Government. Students in the Honors College select professors whom they would like to hear, and ask them to speak as if giving their “Last Lecture”. This allows students and faculty to hear from professors on topics that they might feel passionate about, but might not necessarily fit their field of study.
Bockman’s lecture, however, covers both areas. Titled “Reading, Writing, and Running: The Last Page, the Last Word, the Last Mile,” his lecture intends to combine three of his passions and explain how they relate to each other, and how each has impacted him both personally and professionally.
“When I saw his name on the ballot, I thought he was an excellent choice,” said Hilary C. Martin, this year’s coordinator for the Last Lecture Series. “Having had Professor Bockman for a class myself, I am sure that he will leave the audience still thinking at the end of the lecture.”
Indeed, Bockman said he hopes it will do just that. His lecture ties together reading writing and running and compellingly shares what they all have in common: risk, challenge, and liberation.
Certainly, his path as a lawyer and then professor have forced him to read and write volumes over the course of his career. But he is also an avid runner, averaging 35 miles each week. Bockman uses his daily jog “in the enveloping darkness before dawn” to contemplate the things he’s read and the things he will write, to stimulate his mind and loosen the bounds of his thinking.
Towards the end of his lecture, he leaves no doubt how intertwined these three pillars are, at least for him:
“Physical activity (and not only running) for the use of knowledge acquired by reading for the purposes of writing offers a liberation when the risk is seized and the challenge is met. There is the sense of freedom in the movement of the body and the air about it. That sense promotes the clarity of thought that is essential to good writing, but it can also encourage a kind of quiet meditation or something like a spiritual awareness from which often come the kind of language in writing that stays with a reader. That liberation is nearly tangibly sensual in its nature.”
“It is certainly an honor for the students to ask me to do this. It has given me a chance to reflect on those things that have meant so much to me in my life,” he said. “I hope it resonates with them and enriches their time here at Carolina.”
As for his love of reading, Bockman replied, “I’m not sure I could name a favorite book because of the universe of books I have read. My favorite book has not been written yet. I continually look for it and hopefully someday I’ll find it.”
Similarly, his biggest writing accomplishment is not yet fully committed to paper: “Professionally, a particular brief I wrote for the South Carolina Supreme Court was indicative of my best legal writing, but my unfinished baseball novel will probably be the best thing I’ve ever written.”