Better go down upon your marrow-bones
And scrub a kitchen pavement, or break stones
Like an old pauper, in all kinds of weather;
For to articulate sweet sounds together
Is to work harder than all these, and yet
Be thought an idler by the noisy set
Of bankers, schoolmasters, and clergymen
The martyrs call the world. . . .
(from “Adam’s Curse,” William Butler Yeats)
How would you like to take a course from a published author and scholar of nineteenth-century literature whose nickname is “Mary Poppins on Speed”? Or perhaps you’d like to learn from a Miltonist who is memorizing all 154 of Shakespeare’s sonnets? Would you like to study with a film buff who is training to be a century cyclist? Or with a poet who can recite poetry in French, Spanish, Russian, and Latin and who can, in addition, correctly answer just about any baseball trivia question? If you major or minor in English, you’ll be in just such good company. See below for more about us and how to contact us.
After substituting for a World Literature class during her M.A. program in 2004, Jennifer Burkett knew her calling was teaching at the collegiate level. Since then, and before coming to Ouachita, she has received her M.A., taught at three colleges and universities in central Arkansas, plus one in Mississippi, and braved the coursework and exams for her doctorate.
Jennifer’s scholarly interests are wide, stretching from the American South to across the pond. She has presented papers and published articles on topics including gender and literature, British and American modernism, southern literature, and popular culture. In 2013 The Multimedia Encyclopedia of Women in Today’s World will feature her articles on Alison Krauss, Susan, Boyle, Helen Mirren, and the Vietnam Women’s Union. She’s particularly interested in the literary commonalities between the American South and Ireland, a topic she explored in a presentation on William Faulkner and W. B. Yeats.
As director of Ouachita’s Speer Writing Center, Jennifer is engaged in multiple facets of composition. She has twice submitted panel proposals and has twice been selected to present at the Conference on College Composition and Communication. The first presentation was titled “Navigating Sacred Spaces in the Ivory Tower” which was part of the panel “Come to Jesus: The Heuristics of Science and Faith in the Southern Composition Classroom.”The second presentation, “Where Do you Think You’re Going? Brain Drain in a Small Southern Community,” will take place in March 2013 and is part of the panel titled “(Re)-branding Town & Gown: Bridging the Gap between the Local Community and the Ivory Tower.”
More recently she has become attracted to literary tourism, a subject that co-mingles her love of literature with her love for travel. She enjoys visiting the birthplaces, gravesites, and homes and homestead remnants of her favorite authors. Recent literary tourism jaunts have taken her to the birthplaces, homes, and graves of Truman Capote, William Faulkner, Ernest Hemingway, Willie Morris, Eudora Welty, Tennessee Williams, Richard Wright, Charles Dickens, William Shakespeare, W. B. Yeats, and Harper Lee (not grave!).
Currently hard at work on her dissertation titled “The Southern Good Ol’ Boy: Masculinity in Literature and Culture,” a topic close to her heart, Jennifer will marry an Arkadelphia native and self-proclaimed good ol’ boy in June 2013
Reared and educated in Arkansas, Jay Curlin wrote his doctoral dissertation, “By Dint of Argument”: Milton and the Poetry of Polemics, at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. A portion
of that dissertation, “‘An Equal Poise of Hope and Fear': A
Fraternal Harmony of Extremes,” was included in Arenas of Conflict: Milton and the Unfettered Mind, winner of the 1998
Irene Samuel Award for Distinguished Multiauthor Collection of Essays. Dr. Curlin served as an exchange lecturer from the University of Michigan to Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany (1988-89) and as assistant professor of English at the University of Central Arkansas (1991-97) and Southwest Baptist University (1997-98), before returning to his undergraduate alma mater in the fall of 1998. A member of The Milton Society of America, he has published articles in various journals and collections of essays on Milton, Shakespeare, Denham, Seth, and poetic meter and form, and has presented papers at numerous international, national, regional, and state conferences. A professor of both literature and creative writing, Dr. Curlin is also a practicing poet and has presented his poetry at conferences and poetry readings in Arkansas and Missouri. He and his wife Bonnie have seven children.
See Devoting One’s Life to Teaching Language and Literature to learn how Dr. Curlin came to teach English.
Vice President for Academic Affairs
Dean of the School of Interdisciplinary Studies
Professor of English
Adjunct Professor of English
Professor of English
Amy Sonheim has taught college English for the last 26 years. Her training began when she headed north from Bolivar, Missouri, to Wheaton College near Chicago for her B.A. in English, spending a summer studying British literature in Oxford, England, at which point, on the banks of the Thames, she fell in love with Doug Sonheim. Together, they took M.A.’s at Baylor followed by two years of teaching at a women’s college in Japan. Returning to the States, both Sonheims finished their Ph.D.’s at the University of Missouri-Columbia, a pursuit that for Amy nurtured her interest in illustrated books. The year Dr. Mr. Sonheim came to Ouachita, Dr. Mrs. Sonheim’s book on the subject of the Jewish illustrator Maurice Sendak (Twayne, 1992) came out. Having completed her dissertation, Picture Miladies: The Illustrating of George MacDonald’s Fairy-tale Women by Arthur Hughes, in 1994, Amy was then also hired by Ouachita’s English Department. During her career at Ouachita, she has published more on illustrated books, one article concerning picture books about the Jewish Golem. Recently, in contrast to her early research, Sonheim has switched from studying picture books to tomes, presenting papers at conferences on Proust and Tolstoy. Last year she presented “A Proustian Experience of Racism: Queering the Dreyfus Affair” in Susquehanna, and this year she’ll be presenting “A Dickens of a Political Agenda: War and Peace as Dickensian Fairy Tale” in Seattle.
See Why Did I Plant Myself in English? to learn what drew Dr. Sonheim to her vocation.
Clarence and Bennie Sue Anthony Professor of Bible
Chair of the Department
Interim Director of the University Writing Program
A graduate of Wheaton College, Douglas A. Sonheim earned his Ph.D. from the University of Missouri-Columbia in 1993, with a dissertation on the philosophical and rhetorical theory of George Campbell, an eighteenth-century Scot who was famous in his day for his reply to David Hume’s attack on the validity of miracles. In 2001, Sonheim edited the three-volume Lectures, Sermons, and Dissertations (Thoemmes Press), a collection of some of Campbell’s most important works. Other publications include two reviews inThe English Journal, one of Andrew Hudgins’ poetry (November, 1990) and one of Robert Scholes, Nancy R. Comley and Gregory L. Ulmer’s Text Book: An Introduction to Literary Language (September, 1990). While teaching in Japan, Sonheim published a chapter from his master’s thesis as “Altered Comic Conventions in Walker Percy’s The Moviegoer” in the Baiko English Journal (1987). Current research interests include modern memoirs and the intersection of film with faith. He is married to Dr. Amy Sonheim, and they have two sons.
See Why I Majored in English to learn how Dr. Sonheim’s love for reading became his calling.
Betty Burton Peck Professor of English
For many years, Dr. Wink’s passion has been reading, writing, memorizing, thinking about, and talking about poetry. He has published a volume of poems, Haunting the Winerunner (August House Press, 1982) and has had roughly fifty poems appear in various publications (e.g., The Christian Science Monitor,The Plains Poetry Journal, The Kentucky Review, The Kansas Quarterly, Moondance, and Christianity and Literature. For twenty years, Dr. Wink has done a lot of speaking on the topic of poetry. He has addressed various branches of the Poets’ Roundtable of Arkansas, sundry Arkansas Arts Councils, and a good many elementary, junior high, and high school classes. Dr. Wink believes poetry gets a bad press in our culture; therefore, through his work he strives to reverse that trend.
See Getting Started for a story about Dr. Wink’s first experience as a teacher of English.