African American Literature Off the Shelf
An Interview with Dr. Mark Whalan
By Lauryn Cole
Welcome to our second professor feature in my sustained efforts to introduce you to some of the University of Oregon faculty with a vested interested in African American Literature and Black Studies! This interview was conducted with a figure integral to the English Department as a whole: the esteemed Dr. Mark Whalan, Robert and Eve Horn Professor of English and Head of English. With fabulous recommendations for reading relevant to the field, a commentary on the immediate relevance of centering Black Studies during this time when banned books are experiencing a resurgence, and a poignant argument for the productive nature of discomfort in literature… this conversation has it all.
Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself (where you're from, what did you study in school, a fun fact about yourself)
A: I was born, raised, and educated in England, and grew up in a tiny village in East Nottinghamshire. I studied at the universities of Warwick, Durham, and Exeter—my B.A. was in English and American literature at Warwick, and I got really interested in the American literature we studied there. After a stint teaching high school in London, I got my Ph.D. at Exeter and then was appointed to my first faculty position there in 2002. I joined the UO as the Robert and Eve Horn Professor of English in 2011. A fun fact about me is that my grandma, who worked in domestic service for an aristocratic British family, once served tea to Mahatma Gandhi during his trip to London in the 1930s.
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