Last month (in March), I was asked to be interviewed for a feature in the graduation issue of Graceland’s alumni magazine, the Horizons. They needed 500 words, so, as is my habit, I gave them 1500. Below is the full, unedited version. Now that the semester (and year two on the tenure track) is wrapping up, I’m delighted to have been forced to take time out for reflection on teaching at Graceland. How long have you been teaching at Graceland, and tell me a bit about how you came to be here? This is my second year at Graceland and, thus far, I think I’ve avoided the dreaded “sophomore slump.” The Humanities Division hired me on in the spring of 2015,[…]

O blessed poet of freedom and God, How few have ascended the heights thou hast trod! Marietta Walker printed these lines in Autumn Leaves— the young adult literary journal she founded and edited—two years before donating a 20 acre plot of land in southern Iowa for the construction of Graceland College. Walker, who became one of the college’s first instructors, was already a prolific author in the blossoming literary scene of fin de siècle Lamoni. In the verse above, a tribute to J.G. Whittier, Walker stressed the core values she shared with the abolitionist bard—social justice and spirituality—and on which Graceland College and her poetry were established. As a resident of nineteenth century letters, Walker believed deeply in the ethical significance[…]