Faculty Spotlight

(Front row, left to right: Andrea Rehn, Michelle Chihara, dAvid iAn pAddy; Back row, left to right: Charles S. Adams, Sean P.T. Morris, Jonathan Burton, Wendy Furman-Adams, Tony Barnstone)

Milton, Shakespeare, and Beowulf - Oh My!
Meet the faculty of Whittier's English Department
and find out what books they keep on their nightstand.

by Veronica Galbreath M.A. '12

Charles S. Adams
Professor of English

Charles S. Adams’ teaching and research interests include American Literature and Studies, literary theory, baseball, and autobiography. He recently discussed his paper “Baseball Quotation,” about the emergence of baseball-related phrases into the popular lexicon, at the Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association annual meeting in Washington D.C.​

What Adams Has Been Reading Lately: “The best book I have read recently is Taco U.S.A:  How Mexican Food Conquered America, by Gustavo Arellano (who was on campus for an event last fall). Most of it had me saying 'I had no idea.''” ​

Tony Barnstone 
Albert Upton Professor of English Language and Literature

Tony Barnstone’s teaching and research interests consist of poetry and creative writing, translation, the graphic novel, American Literature, Asian and Asian-American Literature, literature of war, and popular fiction. He recently gave a panel on “Why Poetry Matters” with Australian poet Robert Adamson, moderated by the Poet Laureate of Sydney, Kate Middleton, at the State Library of New South Wales in Sydney. Barnstone continues to perform with his band, Genuine Brandish, to promote his music CD, Tokyo's Burning: WWII Songs. His new book of poems, Buddha in Flames, will appear in 2014 with Sheep Meadow Press.  

What Barnstone Has Been Reading Lately: “Much of my reading right now is rereading of poetry books that have inspired me in the past, as well as some new ones: Long Division, the new one by Alan Michael Parker, always funny and wise and strange; the amazing Oblivio Gate by Sean Nevin, simply one of the most pristine and beautiful books I've read in years."

Jonathan Burton
Assistant Professor of English

Jonathan Burton’s research and teaching interests include Shakespeare, early modern studies, postcolonial studies, literature and race, Islam and English literature, and the history of education. He recently gave a talk at Arizona State University on the history of Shakespeare in American secondary education and organized two panels on race for the annual meeting of the Shakespeare Association, including his talk entitled “Reinventions of Race in the Renaissance.” Burton's chapter entitled “Bodies, Sex and Race: Western Encounters with Sex and Bodies in Non-European Cultures 1500 – 1750,” was recently published in The Routledge History of Sex and the Body, 1500 to the Present.

What Burton Has Been Reading Lately: “Since I am at heart a scholar and a teacher, even my choices for pleasure reading have found their way into my professional life. One of my favorite reads of recent months was Arthur Philips’ The Tragedy of Arthur, a book that poses as a critical edition of a play that may or may not be a lost Shakespearean tragedy. (It may be a brilliant forgery.) That book has me thinking about putting together a course on literary forgery and authenticity.”

Michelle Chihara
Mellon Fellow

Michelle Chihara's research analyzes contemporary American cultural production in the thick economic historic context of the most recent financial panic, which means she is writing about Extreme Makeover Home Edition and the subprime mortgage crash. She has read widely and deeply about the financial crisis, and is currently reading Kevin Phillips' Bad Money. Her other teaching and research interests include creative nonfiction, short stories, and critical race studies. She recently gave a talk on a panel at UC Irvine entitled "Mixed Race Modern." 

What Chihara Has Been Reading Lately: "The latest real estate novel I read was Jane Smiley’s Good Faith, a novel of love affairs and deals gone south. I just finished a wonderful nonfiction book called Arctic Dreams by Barry Lopez. I liked Anthony Doerr’s collection of short stories The Shell Collector, and also thought The Orphan Master's Son by Adam Johnson was riveting." 

Wendy Furman-Adams
Professor of English

Wendy Furman-Adams’ teaching and research interests include Milton, Dante, early modern studies, ecofeminism, art and literature, the Bible as a collection of literary texts, and classical literature. In early 2013, while en route to Rome and Athens, Furman-Adams stopped in Boston to attend her third Modern Language Association meeting as an officer of the Milton Society of America. There, she co-organized an MSA-sponsored panel - "Passionate Milton: Readings and Representations of Paradise Lost" - and delivered one of the three papers on that panel: "Milton's Passionate Epic: Artists Reading Paradise Lost." Furman-Adams looks forward to a "very busy Miltonic summer," as she prepares to deliver two lectures this coming fall: one at Purdue University about visual images of Paradise for an audience of faculty and students in both English and Religious Studies, and one at Chicago's Newberry Library, where the Milton Seminar - the most elite group of Miltonists in the country - regularly meets to share their work.

What Furman-Adams Has Been Reading Lately: “The book I'm currently reading: Women, Wisdom, and Witness, edited by Rosemary Carbine, [professor of Whittier’s own religious studies] and Kathleen Dolphin (Liturgical Press, 2012). The book delivers wide array of feminist approaches to contemporary Catholic theology (and yes, there is such a thing!)--including Rosemary's own marvelous essay on ‘The Beloved Community: Transforming Spaces for Social Change and for Cosmopolitan Citizenship.’”

Sean P.T. Morris
Associate Professor of English

Sean P. T. Morris’ areas of interest include Beowulf, medieval studies, and screenwriting. During his upcoming sabbatical, he plans to translate with Tony Barnstone the medieval werewolf romance, William of Palerne (Morris on language, Barnstone on versification), as well as work on other long-standing projects: articles on “Beowulf and Game Theory”; “The Parson’s Tale and the Meaning of The Canterbury Tales”; and “‘Will You Not Come Down?’ Beowulf and Values in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings,” along with his pet project, a Socratic dialogue on The Meaning of Life.

What Morris Has Been Reading Lately: “Steven Pinker’s The Better Angels of Our Nature (another excellent book from one of the most important thinkers and best writers of our time. Thesis: Human violence has been steadily decreasing throughout history; it’s good to be alive now).”

dAvid iAn pAddy
Professor of English

dAvid pAddy’s teaching and research interests consist of  modern and contemporary British Literature, J.G. Ballard, Celtic  literature, Black British culture, critical theory, and science fiction. He is currently in the final stages of publishing his manuscript, The Empires of J. G. Ballard.

What pAddy Has Been Reading Lately: “My latest discovery [from the New York Review of Books Classics series] is Patrick Hamilton. This is the guy who wrote the plays that became the basis for Alfred Hitchcock’s Rope and George Cukor’s Gaslight, and whose days were filled with tragedy. His trilogy of novels, Twenty Thousand Streets Under the Sky, is seriously one of the most impressive set of books I’ve ever read.  When I first read the description of the plot, I can’t say that it was the kind of thing I would have gone for—a love triangle that goes wrong in the seedy streets of London’s Soho in the 1930s—but this plot, which ends up being quite engaging, does not begin to get at the truly remarkable construction and development of character that makes this a real charmer (if inevitably a downer) of a book.”

Andrea Rehn
Associate Professor of English

Andrea Rehn's teaching and research interests include Victorian literature, postcolonial studies, feminist and queer studies, digital humanities, and critical theory. She has recently presented new research on Jane Austen’s colonial readership and is in the midst of a research project on student engagement with digital texts for an essay that will appear in the journal Persuasions in early 2014. Another article, on Victorian travel writing, should be coming out in an edited collection later in the year.

What Rehn Has Been Reading Lately: "On my bed stand at the moment is a lovely novel by first-time novelist David Wroblewski, The Story of Edgar Sawtelle. I can't say much about it as I've just begun it, other than that the prose is lyrical and seductive. I expect to enjoy it. I found it, by the way, at one of my favorite used bookstores: an old, labyrinthian and somewhat musty shop, inhabited by a very friendly (and exceedingly well-fed) shop kitty, Albert. I just love exploring dusty old bookstores; they offer moments of joy and discovery that the ease of online book-buying will never fully replace for me.

"I also just wolfed down (ahem) all the available Game of Thrones books, and am panting for George Martin to release the next one. Finally, I have been reading lots of books and blogs and Tweets and FB posts about the multiple impacts of the digital revolution in literary studies."