Andy Auge, Ph.D. – 17th &18th Century British Literature, Modern Irish Literature
Professor of English
I teach courses in World Literature, Eighteenth Century British Literature, Modern Irish Literature, and Modern Irish/British Poetry. I have published articles on a number of contemporary Irish poets and my book, A Chastened Communion: Modern Irish Poetry and Catholicism, will be published by Syracuse UP in Fall 2013. When I’m not reading Irish poetry, I enjoy
watching the Chicago White Sox and going for walks with my dog in the woods. The former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens once said that the best training for a lawyer is the analysis of poetry. I’d expand that to include many other professions besides the law. After many years of teaching literature, I still find that it elicits a more intense form of critical thinking than any other discipline. And besides that, it’s fun.
William Jablonsky, MFA – Fiction Writing, Screenwriting, Genre Fiction
Assistant Professor of English – Creative Writing
While my main focus is fiction writing, I teach a wide variety of courses at Loras. In addition to the intro and advanced fiction workshops, I also offer courses in screenwriting, genre fiction writing (specializing in science fiction, fantasy, and horror), and a J-term focused on finishing off your work and sending it out to potential publishers. More recently, I've taught a course on deconstructionist superhero stories (that is, ones that break the traditional four-color, black-and-white mold). I refuse to allow my work to be categorized or labeled, and generally write whatever I feel like at the time, regardless of genre: I'm the author of a magical realist story collection, The Indestructible Man (Livingston Press, 2005) and a steampunk novel, The Clockwork Man (Medallion, 2010 and Grey Oak-India 2012). At the moment I'm finishing off another collection of short stories about transformative experiences gone terribly awry. I do not yet have a title, but it will not sound like a superhero comic book this time.
Kevin Koch, Ph.D., Chair – Creative Nonfiction Writing, Nature Writing & Teaching of Writing
Professor of English – Creative Writing
I teach creative nonfiction courses in the creative writing major, with a particular focus on nature writing. My love for the outdoors carries over into my own writing, where I have published two books: Skiing At Midnight: A Nature Journal from Dubuque County, Iowa, and The Driftless Land: Spirit of Place in the Upper Mississippi Valley. I also compiled and edited the book Rising With Christ: Catholic Women’s Voices Across the World, and have published in magazines like The North American Review and Big Muddy. In addition, I write a monthly outdoors column for a local newspaper. When not teaching or writing, I can be found bicycling, hiking, canoeing, or cross-country skiing.
Jean Merrill, Ph.D. – Medieval and Renaissance British Literature
Associate Professor of English
Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2008
I’m Loras’ early-British literature person, so I teach the Shakespeare sequence and the early British literature surveys. I also teach plenty of first-year composition and occasionally balance that out by teaching the senior Literature Capstone course. I’m always interested in issues of status and difference, especially about gender. My scholarship and teaching interests have merged into an interest in learning across different disciplines and the impact of community-based learning experiences. Outside of work, I like going to plays, watching movies and tv, traveling, cooking, and doing yoga.
Favorite quote: from Hamlet about how we should treat others: “Use every man after his desert, and who should scape whipping? Use them after your own honour and dignity—the less they deserve, the more merit is in your bounty” (Shakespeare, Hamlet II.ii 509-511).
James Pollock, Ph.D. – Poetry Writing & Canadian Literature
Associate Professor of English – Creative Writing
Ph.D., Creative Writing and Literature, University of Houston (2001)
James Pollock is a citizen of Canada, and the author of Sailing to Babylon (Able Muse Press, 2012), a finalist for the Governor General’s Award in poetry, and You Are Here: Essays on the Art of Poetry in Canada (The Porcupine’s Quill, 2012). His poetry and critical essays have appeared in The Paris Review, Contemporary Poetry Review, Poetry Daily, and many other journals. He teaches workshop courses in Poetry Writing, Advanced Poetry Writing, and, from time to time, the Senior Thesis Seminar for Creative Writing majors. His other courses include College Writing, Critical Writing, a J-term course entitled Poetry in Performance, and an English Advanced General Education Course called Canadian Imagination. He emphasizes active and experiential learning in nearly all of his classes. (He recently drank a round of absinthe with some students in Ernest Hemingway’s favorite bar in Paris, while soliciting their ideas for his next study-abroad J-term course in that city, planned for 2015.) He is particularly devoted to modern European literature and art, but he also loves Renaissance and Romantic literature, classical literature, American literature, and Canadian literature, and has a long-standing interest in history and philosophy. He agrees whole-heartedly with Franz Kafka, who wrote, “A book must be an ice-ax to break the frozen sea inside us.”
Susan Stone, Ph. D – 19th Century American Literature, African American Literature, Native American Literature, Gender Studies
Associate Professor of English and Faculty Chairperson
PhD, U of South Carolina and Emory University
I teach a wide variety of courses in19th-century American literature and culture, Gender Studies, Native American and African American Studies, Writing, and other areas, including courses on Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, law in American literature and film, and my newest MOI—a pop-culture class centered on the hit TV show, “The Big Bang Theory.” My most recent scholarly work, presented at the Annual MLA meeting and published by the U of Georgia Press, has focused on the legacies of women transcendentalists—both traditional and not—including Margaret Fuller and Mary Wilkins Freeman. In addition, I have been invited twice to present my biographical research about the earliest Native Americans to become Catholic priests and nuns at the annual St. Kateri Tekakwitha meeting, the oldest and biggest International conference for the study of Catholicism among Indigenous peoples. Pedagogically, I believe strongly in class participation, hands-on learning, and having fun. For example in my J-term class, students don’t just read and write about stories by and about Native American authors. They actually travel to and live on Native reservations, interacting with Native people and experiencing everything from the somewhat expected—that language, education, and storytelling are key to identity and that embracing Native heritage and US military service are both matters of tribal pride—to the extremely unexpected—some tribes utilize more cutting-edge technology than we do and some consider muskrat, which we not only ate and found rather tasty but also learned how to cook, a culinary delicacy tied to survival during hard times. These things you just don’t get in a standard classroom. When I’m not preparing rustic (all organic!) wildlife meals over an open fire with my students, teaching, or attending to my responsibilities as the Loras Faculty Chairperson, I love working with Habitat for Humanity and the Literary Society, watching and occasionally still playing rugby (my former team finished first in the nation for Division One this year—go Harlequins!), reading, and spending time with my husband and cat.
Breyan Strickler, Ph.D. – Modern and Contemporary American Literature, Science Fiction, Environmental Literature
Associate Professor of English
Ph.D., The Pennsylvania State University
I strive to be like my hero, the scholar-activist Jane Addams, who won the 1931 Nobel Prize for her work in the settlement movement in Chicago and who called on us to “free the power of each man [and woman] and connect him [and her] with the rest of life.” As part of this call, I study the art of environmental rhetoric and contemporary American literature, focusing on environmental writers including fiction writers such as Barbara Kingsolver, nature writers such as Scott Russell Sanders, and science fiction writers such as Kim Stanley Robinson. My classes span American Women Writers and Science Fiction, and most of them include an experiential learning component that gets students out there to see their scholarship as activism and build community in the spirit of Jane Addams. I divide my team between reading and working in the community, finding homes for dogs and cats, running my Farmer’s Market stand in the summers, travelling and learning new languages (not very well), and playing Dungeons and Dragons.
Erin VanLaningham, Ph.D. –19th Century British Literature, Irish Studies, Women’s Literature
Assistant Professor of English
I believe that the questions the Victorians and Romantics ask are the same we ask of ourselves: what is the role of technology in our society? How do we find meaning in work? What is the difference between male and female experience? Why does revolution matter? My British novel courses focus on the ways that detective fiction, the gothic, the Romance, and the coming-of-age story transform and create the cultures of the period. We also have opportunities to put the books in context: in the Special Collections of our Loras Library, through the Dubuque Historical Society, and through contemporary film and fiction adaptations. I also teach world literature and the Irish Gothic
In my teaching and research, I agree with George Eliot claim at the end of Middlemarch, “that the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts” –that what we do day to day in our individual lives enriches our communities. And, as all lovers of reading and writing, I return to W.B. Yeats’ line that “words alone are certain good” and we depend on them to live.
My free time involves spending time outside—either skiing, kayaking, gardening, or reading J. And, there must be coffee.