Arts & Culture / Mosaic / October 31, 2012

Visiting professor Falck a ‘breath of fresh air’

Tenured professors know where they will be teaching next year, but not all of Knox’s faculty are so lucky.

Although she does not know how long she will be staying at Knox, Visiting Professor of English Claire Falck has still made a home for herself on campus.

Falck stumbled upon Knox while searching the job market. Although she did not know much about Knox and its mission, Falck had learned a great deal through research, especially in regards to the English department. She knew, according to her profile on the Knox College website, that this job would be ideal.

“I always knew I wanted to work in an environment where I could engage directly with students, whether through small class discussions, or working closely with students on individual projects and research,” Falck said.

This past Friday, Oct. 26, Caxton Club hosted Falck’s presentation entitled “Imagining God: The Divine Universes of Early Modern Biblical Epic.”

Despite Falck’s uncertain future, she is embracing her time at Knox and looks forward to building upon her experiences.

“As a teacher, I look forward to further developing and expanding upon the courses that I’ve taught at Knox and continue to find new ways to get students excited about medieval and early modern literature.”

With a deep love for English and reading, Falck could not give a simple answer as to why she loves the subject.

“There are a lot of reasons I could give — because it allows us to study great works of art, because of its ability to hold up a mirror to important cultural, historical and philosophical issues and questions and let us understand them in new ways,” Falck said.

Falck attended Bowdoin College. With a student body of 1,750 and a student-to-faculty ratio of 9:1, it is understandable that Falck found comfort within the Knox community.

“Knox reminded me a lot of Bowdoin when I first started, so in many ways teaching [here] felt like coming back home,” Falck said.

Falck gives credit to the Knox community for an easy transition. With a community that was not only welcoming but also eager to reach out a hand if needed, she found Knox much easier to settle into.

Falck was not the only one in her family to adjust to Knox. In September, an unexpected mistake with a certain airline carrier meant that her 10-year-old family dog, Mulligan, could not fly home with Falck’s mother in Arizona.

Students or faculty walking around the third floor of Old Main are not surprised when they see a large golden retriever walking with or without Falck from one room to another.

“She was a little confused when I first started to bring her to school,” Falck said. “I think she couldn’t figure out why I wanted to climb three flights of stairs and then sit in a room all day, especially when there was a giant lawn covered in squirrels right there.”

But like Falck, Mulligan seems to have made a smooth transition to life at Knox. She has made friends with other professors near Falck’s office, students and local residents.

“She’s made friends with all of the people waiting for the early morning bus. Some of them have even started bringing her treats,” Falck said. “She keeps waking me up earlier and earlier every morning so she can go hang out with them.”

Like Mulligan, Knox students do not mind taking part in Falck’s morning class of English literature.

“It’s hard to find a professor that makes Chaucer and Spenser an enjoyable experience at 10:40 in the morning,” junior Prosper Hodgson said.

German exchange student Anjuli Walter agrees.

“I was afraid that taking a class about old English literature with Chaucer, Spenser and Milton would be everything but interesting, and the texts too hard for me to understand,” Walter said. “[But] it is not boring! Reading and talking about those texts are so much fun and [are] interesting. Her class would be nothing without her.”

Hodgson and Walter respect Falck’s classroom environment.

“She is funny, energetic [and] open for everything people have to say about different topics. Even if the argument might be weak or not so good, she always finds something good in it,” Walter said. “I feel comfortable in her class.”

“I think because of how young she is that she’s a breath of fresh air to Knox,” Hodgson said. “She also brings in a lot of knowledge and her age in no way makes her seem less experienced teaching these texts than other, older, professors.”

Recent graduate Kristyn Bridges ‘12 also admired Falck’s teaching methods and passion for English.

“As a professor, she was very helpful, entertaining and nice,” Bridges said. “She always had a smile on her face and when she taught the class. Her energy would light up the room.”

Hodgson, Walter and Bridges highly recommend Knox students to sign up for English courses with Falck if given the opportunity.

“Outside of being a professor, she really made herself available as a friend,” Bridges said. “She would always stop and ask me how I was doing and later congratulated me on becoming a graduate. Her door was always open and she always greeted me with a warm smile.”

Carmen Caraballo

Tags:  Caxton Club claire falck english literature visiting professor

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