From the Department's Chair
One of the terms that we use in literary studies is in medias res, a term that literally means "in the midst of things." We apply the term to narratives that open in the middle of the action. Details about the time before we enter the narrative get filled in over the course of the text through flashbacks or dialogue as we listen to the narrator tell the story.
Of course, some details we never come to know as we follow through the pages. Yet we finish the text with a better understanding of how the author's narrative choices have influenced our reading and our own writing, and a better understanding of how we are challenged by the poem or the play or the novel. Literary studies gives us the opportunity to embark on a journey through words—sometimes joining the journey at the beginning, sometimes in medias res—and always welcomes us to come along.
As with our students, our faculty have taken their own journeys to get here—we've been educated in the north and the south, the east and the west, and overseas. We've taught in all of these places, too. We have strengths in American and British literatures in English in a variety of genres and historical periods, film studies, and creative writing; we also are accomplished writers of poetry and essays, short stories, literary criticism, and non-fiction articles and editorials.
We have different pedagogical styles and within our own courses, we employ a variety of techniques to better assist our students in their learning. For our own pleasure reading, we pick up different genres, a wide range of authors, span historical periods, and sometimes, leave fiction or poetry behind to read a good article in a popular magazine.
And in addition to this diversity, we share these common commitments.
We all trust in the vitality of language and literature, and we believe in the necessity of the humanities in the world today. We agree that the most important thing we do here is join our students in their journeys to becoming educated citizens. We share in the commitment to teach our students to become better readers and writers, to become more thoughtfully engaged with their own culture and the world at large, and to better understand that what matters is not the joyful relief that comes after finishing Middlemarch, but the journey—the beginning, middle, and end—that Eliot, and other writers, have taken us on.
Welcome to the English Department at Gustavus. We invite you to come with us.
Rebecca Fremo, Chair and Associate Professor of English