Professor of English
Office location: Neville Hall 229
Office phone: 864.833.8373
BA, University of Montevallo
MA, PhD, University of Tennessee
Joined PC in 1987
Survey of American Literature II, Introduction to World Cinema, Creative Writing: Creative Nonfiction, Film and American Culture, Holocaust Literature, Southern Jewish Literature, The Modern British and American Novel, Media and Society
Comic Book Culture; Alternative Graphic Novels; Independent Film; any novel by Zadie Smith, Michael Chabon, Philip Roth; Live Music (Wilco, Flaming Lips, Radiohead, Neil Young); Writing; Jewish Culture; Cooking (Cajun especially!!!); The now-defunct Six Feet Under and The X-Files (still love it); my wife, daughters, and 2 cats
My teaching philosophy is, and has always been, to persuade and give opportunities to students to see their world from as many perspectives as possible. I believe it is important to challenge the pre-existing views of students, to help them form their world views, and to encourage them to use literature in this process, as it is a true window to the world and into their hearts, minds, and souls.
In the past few years, particularly in my American and Jewish-based courses, I have asked students to participate in the ongoing American narrative which means, in my view, that we must examine the stories, the mythos, that America has been writing about, and which it has come to believe about itself. In doing so, we must examine closely the issues of race, culture, and religion in America and try to determine if our country has been fulfilling its promise and living up to its own expectations. So as we read works by Faulkner, Capote, Michael Chabon, or examine the reality of Jewish life in the American South, or see how America responded (or didn’t respond) to the gathering storm clouds of the Holocaust, or how multi-racial Americans are still coming to terms with their pasts and legacies, we attempt to answer questions about ourselves, our views, biases, and prejudices. And in this process, both my students and I continue to grow and re-evaluate ourselves and what it means to be an American.
Professor of English
Director, Media Studies program
Office location: Neville Hall 227
Office phone: 864.833.8989
BA, Furman University
PhD, State University of New York at Stony Brook
Joined PC in 2001
Faculty advisor, The Bluestocking
Survey of English Literature I, Studies in Linguistics, Chaucer, Topics in Medieval Literature, Advanced Writing
Medieval eschatology and manuscript studies, Old and Middle English Literature, History and Structure of the English Language, Medieval Latin Prose and Poetry, History of Rhetoric, History of Writing Technology, Computer-Assisted Instruction
I joined the faculty in 2001, after completing my PhD work at SUNY Stony Brook in New York. My education and career path show the direction and focus of an errant knight in your typical medieval romance: full of passion and commitment, but often distracted by phantasms of his own making. I like to think that I have remained steadfast and loyal to the maiden of my affection, literature of the late medieval period, whom I revere in all of her many manifestations—romances, tale collections, lyrics, saints’ lives, plays, debates, fables, and so forth. But to be truthful, other intellectual beauties have caught my eye as well. I find foreign languages perfectly irresistible, even if I don’t speak them very well. What started as flirtation with European languages turned into a full-fledged affair with Language (yes, with a capital L), and so now I teach our department’s Topics in Linguistics course. It’s perfectly scandalous, but I can’t give her up!
If promiscuous in my academic interests, I am boringly single-minded when it comes to family. My wife and two kids (Sylvia, Sienna & Jack) are the true lights of my life. Look for me and the kids bicycling around Clinton. We’re hoping that one day we’ll make it onto PC’s promotional posters.
Assistant Professor of English
Director, Southern Studies Program
Office location: Neville Hall 231
Office phone: 864.833.8340
AB, English, Duke University
MFA, Poetry, Louisiana State University
PhD, English and American Studies, University of Virginia
Joined PC in 2014
Introduction to Southern Studies; African American literature; American identities; composition and creative writing; literary “geographies”; the “global South”; gender studies; genre studies, especially modern and contemporary poetry; transatlantic modernism.
Cats; cooking; digital humanities; folklore and oral history; gardening; meditation, yoga, and contemplative practice; the natural world and nature writing; singing and Southern music generally-blues, folk, and jazz, and spirituals in particular; small-scale sustainable farming practices and stewardship of land for future generations.
I could never be accused of being an “ivory tower scholar.” Sure, I love the library as much as any English professor—I love research and long periods of time devoted to writing and study. But I’ve also consciously chosen to balance those periods of introspection with active engagement in every community I’ve joined—up to and including being drafted by my neighbors to run for City Council and serving two years as Vice Mayor of Charlottesville.
After (thankfully) retiring from politics in 2007, I combined my commitment to service with my great love—gardening—and, along with my partner and the team of dedicated volunteers we attracted, I co-founded and administered not one but two church-based community gardening/hunger ministries. (The first “grew” its own neighborhood-based leadership and is operating independently; the second just achieved an impressive fund-raising milestone and is about to open a community canning kitchen.)
I love the warmth and humor of the faculty members at PC—and the excitement they seem to bring to their jobs. I’ve also met a few student leaders and come away quite impressed at how open, bright, and intellectually curious they are. As for what I hope we can accomplish together, I hope I may be forgiven for turning to a Thomas Jefferson quote. (No one who lives more than a few years in Virginia escapes without a few choice Jefferson quotes, as my students will no doubt learn!) Writing to his friend and legal mentor George Wythe while he was working on the revision of the Virginia code of laws, he said:
I think by far the most important bill in our whole code is that for the diffusion of knowledge among the people. No other sure foundation can be devised, for the preservation of freedom and happiness … Preach, my dear Sir, a crusade against ignorance; establish & improve the law for educating the common people. Let our countrymen know that the people alone can protect us against these evils [tyranny, oppression, etc.] and that the tax which will be paid for this purpose is not more than the thousandth part of what will be paid to kings, priests and nobles who will rise up among us if we leave the people in ignorance.
Jefferson was steadfast in the belief that liberal education in the humanities is the bedrock of an informed and active citizenry, one prepared to assume leadership in society. With Jefferson, I put my faith in liberal education—for its ability to make students aware of their cultural birthright, to awaken them to their social and civic responsibilities, and to encourage them to seek the common good.
And hopefully, there will be gardening, too.
Professor of English
Office location: Neville Hall 213
Office phone: 864.833.8996
BA, Washington and Jefferson College
MA, PhD, University of Massachusetts
Joined PC in 1996
Capstone: Tragedy Evolving; Composition & World Literature I & II; Modern & Contemporary Drama; Survey of British Literature I & II, Renaissance Poetry & Drama, Shakespeare; & Women’s Literature
British Literature; Drama; Renaissance Literature; & Shakespeare
I am a native of Pittsburgh (Go Steelers!) who resides in Greer and considers Walt Disney World my ‘home away from home.’ I enjoy a good laugh, a good book, and anything chocolate. Indeed, I keep a stash of candy in my office—for medicinal purposes only—should you require some! My hubby, Dr. Greg Goeckel, is a professor of mathematics at PC, and we are the doting and always delighted parents of Zachary Charles. I am also the proud step-mother of twins: Julia Goeckel, a 2013 graduate of PC, and Philip Goeckel, who serves in the US Army and is married to the lovely Jennifer Culbertson Goeckel.
I graduated summa cum laude from Washington and Jefferson College in Pennsylvania where I majored in English and Business and Economics. College was transformative for me: I was the first in my family to complete a four-year degree. I wanted to be a professor myself, and teach at a place where the liberal arts and personal relationships mattered; therefore, PC felt like home from the minute I arrived back in 1996. At PC I was appointed an inaugural Student Life Fellow from 2006-2008, and I continue to work closely with Campus Life. I also happily serve on the Writing and the Women’s and Gender Studies Committees. I enjoy leading student travel to England and Italy—and taking my son along too. When he touched down in London for the first time at the age of three, he promptly shouted for the entire plane to hear, “Hey! Jane Austen lives here!”
My students consistently comment on my great passion for literature, which I hope is contagious and a source of motivation. If nothing else, I advocate appreciation of literature for its essential beauty and richness. A good book explores the fundamental questions of human existence, and through these questions, I encourage my students to examine their own lives through writing and class discussions. The latter are very important to me. I maintain a challenging but supportive, hopefully even nurturing, environment for learning. No PC students would tell you that “Dr. S.” is an easy professor, but I bet they wouldn’t tell you that I don’t care or am ever unenthusiastic either!
Associate Professor of English
Director, Creative Writing program
Office location: Neville Hall 235
Office phone: 864.833.8366
BA, English, Francis Marion College
MA, English, Clemson University
MFA, Creative Writing (Popular Fiction), University of Southern Maine
Joined PC in 2001
Faculty advisor, Figs & Thistles
Freshman Composition and Creative Writing (Poetry, Short Fiction, Screenwriting, Children’s Books, Fairy Tales, Advanced Creative Writing)
Creative Writing; Fairy Tales, Folklore, and Mythology; Magic Realism & Fantasy; Film; Gender Studies; Comic Books & Graphic Novels; Pop Culture
When I began teaching full-time in 1994, I had no idea where I would end up, or if teaching was really what I was called to do. The first half of my teaching career was peripatetic—four schools in six years, such being the life of an itinerant academic—and while I enjoyed the work, the sense of being perpetually in transition was not what I wanted. Then, in 2001, I came to Presbyterian College, a great place which I’m happy to call home.
My favorite part of teaching at PC is working individually with students. I feel that the one-on-one conference is where I can be most effective in talking about writing, whether critical or creative, and in those individual conferences I can give my full attention to each student.
“…the ideal teacher would not so much influence others as discover the uniqueness of each writer and thereupon respond to and develop that…” ~Donald Justice, AWP Newsletter, September 1980
In his memoir, Stan Persky talks about the French literary theorist Maurice Blanchot’s concept of teaching as an “infinite attention to the other.” Persky’s response to Blanchot was to define learning as “the willingness to change your life,” which I think is not only true but necessary for both the student and the teacher. These ideas have stuck with me since I read them in 1998, as I think they offer a summation of my own teaching philosophy. To give infinite attention to the other must also include a willingness to change—as a teacher I must be willing to not only change my students but be changed by them. And I am, every day.
Associate Professor of English
Director, Women’s & Gender Studies program
Office location: Neville Hall 226
Office phone: 864.833.8368
BA, English and Spanish, University of Northern Iowa
PhD, Comparative Literature, University of Oregon
Joined PC in 2012
Introduction to Literary Theory and Criticism, Women’s World Literature, Postcolonial Literature and Film
Mary Henry and de Saussure Davis Edmunds Professor of English
Office location: Neville Hall 233
Office phone: 864.833.8445
BA, Wofford College
MA, University of South Carolina
PhD, Vanderbilt University
Joined PC in 1988
Survey of American Literature I, American Renaissance, Southern Literature, Appalachian Literature, Silent Film, Film Noir
I chose education after reading Pat Conroy’s The Water is Wide during my sophomore year at Wofford College; and while our Admissions Office may kill me for saying this, I came to PC in 1988 because I went to Wofford. But it’s true: the ideal of a small, church-related, liberal-arts college kept me going through long years of graduate school. Shortly after finishing my doctoral work at Vanderbilt University, I visited Clinton, fell under the spell of the PC campus and family, and have been teaching on the front steps of Neville Hall ever since.
Don’t ask which course is my favorite. I love covering Southern Literature, as well as championing the Southern Studies minor. But American Literature I, spanning the grand tradition of American ideals and identity from 1607 until 1865, is a joy as well. Teaching Literary Oxford under the shade trees of Corpus Christi College during the PC-at-Oxford Programme, followed by a walk along the Thames behind Christ Church meadow, has been the stuff of dreams. Silent Film, however, just might be my baby. The critic Pauline Kael once said that there is nothing like that moment when the lights go down and all our hopes are focused on the silver screen lighting up before us. That’s so true of silent film, which can provide the most pure cinematic experience we’ll ever know. Don’t believe me? Take the course and find out.
On a personal note, I love music (early country, bluegrass, swing, big band, chamber, and opera) and all things baseball. If reincarnation’s a fact, I’d like to be a shortstop for the Braves next time around.