Meet the Department: English

Critical Thought and Inquiry (CTI) classes allow students to learn subjects outside of their major and get to know professors in other departments. However, you take only one class in each of the CTI categories, so there are some faculty you may not know. This is the third part of a series of articles highlighting different departments on campus in order for you to become familiar with the faculty at William Jewell College.


Dr. Mark Walters
Dr. Walters is both the chair of the English department and Oxbridge Chair of English Language and Literature. He received his bachelor of arts from Fort Hays State University, his master of arts and master of fine arts from Wichita State University, and his doctorate from the University of Kansas. Walters specializes in American literature, particularly the work of William Faulkner, and in creative writing fiction. He teaches several different courses at Jewell and enjoys the diverse experiences he gets from teaching each of them.
“I like them all for different reasons: the advanced studies in U.S. literature for the opportunity to dig more deeply into Faulkner; the fiction workshops for seeing students learn the craft of writing short stories; the Oxbridge critical theory for introducing students to methodologies typically unfamiliar to them; and CTI 100 for working with texts and ideas outside literary studies,” Walters said.
Walters was originally drawn to the college by its interdisciplinary emphasis, and he has drawn inspiration from talking to colleagues of different disciplines.

“This has been a great source of scholarly and creative energy for me,” he said.


Dr. Sara Morrison

Dr. Morrison is an associate professor of English who received her bachelor of arts at Swarthmore College in Swarthmore, Pa. and her master of arts and doctorate at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Her specialty is early modern England, a period formerly known as the Renaissance, which she finds interesting because of the shift going on in the nation at that time, socially and economically. She is currently studying Queen Elizabeth I’s relationship with the Turkish Sultana, which helped foster diplomatic ties between the two nations.
“I’m thinking about the way that some early modern plays dramatize interest in the diplomatic relationship between the two of them,” Morrison said.
Morrison grew up in Kansas City, and this was a factor in her decision to teach at Jewell. She was also drawn by the Oxbridge program, which she says is similar to the honors program at Swarthmore. The
colleagues and students interested in education are both elements of being a professor here that she enjoys.
Morrison had a difficult time choosing her favorite course to teach, but she enjoys the opportunities for interdisciplinary teaching provided at this college specifically.

“I like them all for related but different reasons. I don’t think I could say which is my favorite class to teach here,” she said.


Dr. Ruth Williams

Dr. Williams is an assistant professor of English. She got her bachelor of arts in English at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Ill. her master of fine arts in creative writing at Eastern Washington University and her doctorate in English and comparative literature at the University of Cincinnati. This education was a major influence on Williams’s decision to teach at Jewell—much of her education took place at a small, liberal arts college. She specializes in creative writing-poetry and creative nonfiction and women’s literature with an emphasis in poetry and especially social justice.

“Creative writing, I think my primary interest is how when we put words on a page, it can be something that’s deeply personal to us, but once we put them on the page and we try to share them with other people, all these other dynamics come in,” Williams said.
Her scholarly interest is in the idea that literature, no matter how old, can speak to issues in the lives of its readers.

“Even if we’re reading a book from…the 18th century, there could be something in there that is relevant to my life,” she said.

Williams enjoys teaching here because of the small and positive environment. She also enjoys the fact that she is able to teach both creative writing and literature, something which does not happen at bigger universities.
She would like more recognition of the relevance of studying English literature in modern society.
“Learning how to read well, critically; learning how to write well, critically and creatively; and learning how to think critically and creatively are skills that are invaluable in the world for both your personal happiness and also your career,” she said.

Dr. Deepa Jani
Dr. Jani is a visiting assistant professor. She received her bachelor of arts at the University of Pune, India, her masters of arts from Carnegie-Mellon University, and her doctorate from the University of Pittsburgh. She specializes primarily in world literature and critical theory and is also interested in world cinema and film theory.

“What interests me about literature is that despite its institutional function, it holds the potential for counter-discourse, excess and transgression,” Jani said.

The courses she has taught here have all been in world literature and film studies, and she has difficulty picking a favorite as they are all disciplines she finds interesting.
Jani was originally attracted to Jewell by the Oxbridge program and the courses taught in the English
department and has enjoyed teaching courses in her area of specialization, a subject which is not offered or required at all universities.
“At Jewell, English majors have to take courses in world literature…which is still not the norm in most English departments,” she said.


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