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Faculty Profile

Carol Ann Johnston

Professor of English; Martha Porter Sellers Chair of Rhetoric and the English Language (1990)

Contact Information

johnston@dickinson.edu

East College Room 404
717.245.1268

Bio

Her teaching interests include literature of the Early Modern period with foci on Shakespeare, Milton, and lyric poetry; visual poetry including letterpress printing; the history and culture of the book and printing; New Historicism and Cultural Materialism, and Southern Women Writers. Her current research includes Thomas Traherne and seventeenth-century visual culture; John Donne and the book; Eudora Welty's discourse of masculinity. She has published a book on Eudora Welty's short stories as well as articles on Welty and critical reception, photography, lyric poetry, and language; her manuscript placing poet Thomas Traherne in the context of seventeenth-century visual culture re-centers his work in relation to Civil War politics and includes work on linear perspective, emblem books, court masques, iconoclasm, and mirrors. She has also published articles on Traherne and sectarianism, linear perspective, and court masques. Her poems have appeared in such journals as Shenandoah, Hawai'i Review, Pilgrimage, The Drunken Boat.

Education

  • B.A., Baylor University, 1978
  • M.A., 1980
  • M.A., Harvard University, 1983
  • Ph.D., 1992

2022-2023 Academic Year

Fall 2022

ENGL 101 Southern Women Writers
Cross-listed with WGSS 101-03.A course in prose written by women of the American South. We will begin with the diary of Mary Chesnut written during the Civil War and continue with notable writers of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, which may include Katherine Anne Porter, Flannery O'Connor, Eudora Welty, Zora Neale Hurston, Ellen Gilchrist, Ellen Douglas, Kaye Gibbons. Some critical and theoretical texts will also be required. Writing assignments will include short explications, longer essays, and an exam. Attendance and participation in class discussion are required.

WGSS 101 Southern Women Writers
Cross-listed with ENGL 101-04.A course in prose written by women of the American South. We will begin with the diary of Mary Chesnut written during the Civil War and continue with notable writers of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, which may include Katherine Anne Porter, Flannery O'Connor, Eudora Welty, Zora Neale Hurston, Ellen Gilchrist, Ellen Douglas, Kaye Gibbons. Some critical and theoretical texts will also be required. Writing assignments will include short explications, longer essays, and an exam. Attendance and participation in class discussion are required.

ENGL 341 Early Modern Lyric
The sixteenth and seventeenth centuries in England generally are recognized as the Golden Age of the lyric—the short—poem. We will begin our reading of the sixteenth-century poem with adaptations of Petrarchan sonnets by Wyatt and Surrey, and move to the mastery of the form by Sidney and Spencer. The seventeenth century begins with the revival of the sonnet by Shakespeare, and includes brilliant passionate poems declaiming the love of God and the love of women and men by Herbert, Donne, Wroth, Marvell, and others. In addition to learning the techniques of describing and analyzing these poems aesthetically, we will also discuss the cultural contexts in which our poets lived. Our objective will be to interrogate T.S. Eliot’s assertion, early in the twentieth century, that a lyric poem is “the voice of the poet speaking to himself or nobody.” As we read and discuss we will ask ourselves, both consciously and unconsciously, how private or how porous brief poems might be. Can artists write in a vacuum, as Eliot implies, alienated from political and financial directives, keeping their work “pure and unsullied?” Instead, if great art is to some extent driven by cultural concerns, such as religious controversy, struggles to define and defend the monarchy, and incipient women's rights, then how do we know where these outside issues enter into the art?

ENGL 403 Eudora Welty
The liveliness of Eudora Welty scholarship at her 2009 centennial shows Welty to be among the pantheon of American writers, one of the masters of the short story. Known from the beginning of her career in the late 1930s for its humorous and poignant depictions of life in rural Mississippi during the depression, Welty's work recently has been examined under the lenses of political and cultural criticism, and has been read compellingly as a part of the feminist canon. We will consider Welty's formal mastery as a writer of fiction, as well as reading her from post-structuralist critical points of view. We will also become familiar with the culture of the rural south, using as our starting point the fabulous photographs that Welty took during the depression.