As a Ph.D. student at the University of Minnesota, when I sat in graduate seminars on Shakespeare’s sonnets, I would never have guessed that I’d finish my teaching career leading students to Antarctica. Across forty years of teaching at Pacific Lutheran University, I followed my deepest passions in some surprising directions.
I focused early on PLU’s writing program and founded the Writing Center, which won a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. I began experimenting with nature literature and study abroad courses. Long before there was a specialty in environmental literature, I created a Wild Reading course and took students to frozen northern Minnesota in January.
That adventure evolved into 35 courses to Ecuador, Costa Rica, England, Spain, Italy, France, Austria, Germany, Netherlands, Mexico, Cuba, Chile, Argentina, Tanzania, Uganda, and most spectacularly Antarctica. I love these courses where we put texts in dialogue with places and creatures, and all become more meaningful. I think no one has ever taught Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner crossing the Drake Passage until my students and I did it together.
I began my career thinking I’d teach poetry. By the end of my career, I realized I was teaching not poems but people. I love working closely with students, getting to know them, and watching the transformational power of literature and nature. As a pilgrim of my own passions, I invite students to explore theirs.
Professional Resources: Curriculum Vitae