Adam Hazlett, 41, has lived in Fenton for eight years. He is married to Vera Hazlett and they have a 6-year-old daughter, Aurora. They also have a Cavapoo named H. Norman and according to Hazlett, “is the terror of E. Rockwell Steet.” Hazlett is the chair of the Department of Humanities, School of Liberal Arts, Henry Ford College in Dearborn.
Are you from the Fenton area?
I grew up just outside a little village of about 400 residents called Sugar Grove, Ohio. I grew up in the hollows of the Hocking Hills region. This area is, believe it or not, an actual tourist destination in Ohio. I was blessed to grow up in a small Appalachian community. I spent summer days hiking in the hills and swimming in ponds. Of course, I spent a few digging holes and bailing hay, too.
Where did you go to school?
I went to high school at Berne Union, the village school. We had about 900 students K-12 all in one building. I have a bachelor’s degree in Liberal Studies from Ohio University. I have a Master of Arts in Literature from Eastern Michigan University. I also hold a Master’s of Arts in Political Theory and a Doctor of Arts in Religious Philosophy from Harrison Middleton University. The Doctor of Arts differs from the Ph.D. in that the DA focuses on studying the subject in order to teach it rather than focusing on research within the subject matter. I actually focused my dissertation on the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the religious and political ideologies presented in those tales, and using it all to teach morality and ethics.
What inspired you to become a professor?
Honestly, I have to say it was my mentors when I was in college. I worked for one of my favorites, who gave me the hardest-earned “B-” I ever achieved and knew firsthand the impact that he, and others like him, had on a young man from a small Ohio town. Dr. Henderson taught me that my duty as an academic is always the process of discussion, debate, and investigation — and to back it all up with evidence. He argued that professors were the Fifth Estate; there to say the unpopular, think the unthinkable, and take the heat for all of it. He taught me that my job was to get students to think, not to tell them what to think.
My family and friends asked me that very question when I switched my major from computer engineering. The more I studied politics and religion at Ohio University, the more convinced I became that the story was more important than the data. This is why I went on to study the story at EMU. Stories bring us closer as a human race. Stories are so much a part of who we are and how we learn as humans. The humanities truly cover all those things which make us human — art, music, politics, drama, film, literature, religion, philosophy, etc.
Can you explain what the “X” in X-mas really means?
In ancient manuscripts and commentaries on the Bible, monks and scholars would use the “Chi” or Greek “X” to represent Christ. This made writing the commentaries easier and is akin to shorthand. But this even can be seen in mainline Protestant churches and Catholic Churches in the Chi Rho “PX” sign that represents “Christos Rex” or “Christ the king.” This is called the Christogram. The earliest Christians used an “X” to symbolize what we now know as the cross. I have a collection of small artifacts and one of those is a second century Christian ring that uses the “X” to symbolize the cross upon
which Jesus hung. Do not think about this as a modern way to cross out your belief, but rather an ancient way to celebrate it.
Is your wife a professor, too?
My lovely wife, Vera, and I have been married for 16 years. She is truly my better half and my rock. She is a proud high school English teacher and an even prouder Fenton Tiger. I met her at Ohio University 21 years ago. It is true that friends make the best spouses.
What do you do in your spare time?
I love camping with my family and traveling to see family. Now that our daughter is older, we are taking as many adventures as we can. My hobby right now is trying to be the best dad and husband that I can. I have started to get involved in volunteer work in the city. I currently serve on the city’s library board. But I also get a little bit of videogame playing and film watching in. My main hobby would be my job. I know this sounds boring to some, but since I study and teach popular culture, it truly is a labor of love. Where else do you get to watch Captain America films and claim to be working?
What are your thoughts about living in Fenton?
I truly love Fenton. We tried to first move here back in 2006 as the housing market crashed. It took us some time to get here, but we couldn’t be happier. We have lovely and generous neighbors and there is a true sense of community here. There is new and old, hip and traditional, and a perfect mix of kind-hearted people.
What is something most people don’t know about you?
Most people don’t know that when I was a child, I watched “The Wizard of Oz” daily and I do mean daily. I would get up early and start the movie. Whatever I didn’t finish would be watched sometime in the evening. This went on for years. I can still, to this very day, recite every line, every chorus, and every guffaw of that great picture.