Campus / New Professors / News / September 27, 2012

Visiting Assistant Professor of English Laura Donnelly talks Knox, literature

Donnelley Visiting Assistant Professor of English Laura Donnelley expressed her appreciation to be at a small liberal arts college while sitting in her new office on the third floor of Old Main. (Ben Sisaikeo/ TKS)

Visiting Assistant Professor of English Laura Donnelly is a 2001 graduate of Hope College (Mich.) In 2011, she earned her Ph.D. in English and Creative Writing from Western Michigan University. Donnelly has been published in more than a dozen publications and cites creative writing as her greatest teaching interest.

The Knox Student: What’s your favorite work of literature?

LD: (laughs) That’s impossible to answer. I think though, for poetry, Elizabeth Bishop is my favorite poet. And there are so many that I love, but I think she remains my favorite because she’s one of the first poets that really spoke to me and made me think, “Oh, this writing makes sense to me.” So, she holds a special place in my heart.


TKS: Do you have a favorite novel?

LD: Anything by Virginia Woolf. “To the Lighthouse,” maybe.


TKS: What was your undergrad experience like?

LD: I was actually a music and English double-major, and I spent most of my time in the practice room. That’s something that’s still part of my life and I really love, but midway through, I realized it wasn’t something I wanted to pursue as a career. I just found myself more and more in love with my English classes and somewhere, maybe junior year, I realized, “Wait a minute, this is of course what I want to do with my life.” And there are some professors from my undergrad experience I still keep in touch with, and I feel really lucky for that.


TKS: How did you end up at Knox?

LD: I knew of Knox through some friends in grad school who had been undergrad students here. One of them went on to be a visiting faculty member here recently, and I found out about the yearlong position from her and I had just heard a lot of good things about the English program here.


TKS: What are you teaching right now?

LD: I’m teaching Introduction to Literature, and then a beginning poetry class. There are 19 in the literature class, and 12 in the poetry class, which is great for discussion.


TKS: Why teach at the college level?

LD: It’s not as common in high school to have a focus on creative writing classes, and you get to do a lot of that in a college setting, and I like the interaction between professors and students at the college level.


TKS: What are your plans for the future?


LD: I’m looking at positions at a lot of schools, but the ideal for me would be another small liberal-arts school.


TKS: What do you think of the Knox environment?

LD: I think it’s great. It was incredibly welcoming to me when I came in — the faculty, the other visiting faculty, students, but I think more than that I just see the students being really welcoming and supportive of each other. It’s such a diverse campus for such a small school, and the students seem proud of that and seem to foster that.


TKS: What are you most looking forward to here at Knox?

LD: Just getting to work more with the students. I was so blown away in my first week by the level of discussion here and the level of interest and enthusiasm for the work, which I think pretty much trumps what I’ve been around before, and it’s really exciting to be around.

Tags:  Creative writing Elizabeth Bishop english Hope College Virginia Woolf Western Michigan University

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