Dr. Anthony Wilson

From Faulkner to Facebook
English Professor Dr. Anthony Wilson believes his students have something significant to say.

 “Words, language is so fundamental to our identity, to who we are, to who we can become—and so enjoyable at the same time.

 “I love the idea that so much of who we are individually and collectively comes from the stories we tell and are told,” he explains.

From childhood, Dr. Wilson says he’s always loved the works of authors like Dr. Seuss and Shel Silverstein, “those poems that are about words themselves.”

He and his colleagues in the English Department encourage students to rediscover and rekindle the joy they got as a kid learning to read.

For some, though, studying literature brings up the ultimate question, “When am I going to use this poetry in the future?”

“It’s not like somebody’s going to pull you over, put a gun to your head and say, ‘Quick, analyze this poem,’” he smiles.

He uses a “toolbox” analogy.

“I tell my students, ‘You’re not going to use it the way you’d use a hammer.’

“Think about studying literature the way you might approach the work you do as an athlete, for example, in the weight room. You don’t do curls because you have to do them on the field in the middle of a game. You do the exercises to strengthen your body as a whole, so then you’re much better at doing everything else you’re called upon to do,” he explains.

He compares his classes to “strengthening your intellectual muscle.”

When it comes to writing, Dr. Wilson believes a lot of students get discouraged because in the past they’ve had a very “rules-oriented approach.”

He says the first step to liberating students from the “chore” of writing is to develop in them the sense that they have something to say that’s worth reading.

“That’s what you get at a school like LaGrange. Your professor’s going to be reading what you write with great care and attention and isn’t just going to be marking commas and run-on sentences.”

He believes grammar and punctuation are extremely important but worries that students see writing as a hoop they have to jump through.

“If a student recognizes that he or she has something significant to say, along with that conviction comes the desire to improve.

“It’s easy to overcome a deficiency in preparation (for college) if you can instill that sense that what you have to say is important,” he continues.

“Think of all the different ways that we’re writing now as opposed to even five years ago and the ways others see our ‘written’ selves. Maybe grammar doesn’t matter so much on Facebook and Twitter, but still you’re judged by how you present yourself. The better you become at writing, the better your virtual self will come across.”

Dr. Wilson’s specialty is Southern literature; his favorite author is William Faulkner.

Referring to Faulkner’s “The Sound and the Fury,” Professor Wilson says, “He manages the particular experience of living in a small Southern county and the very real, visceral issues of race and gender and identity.

“Southern literature takes all of the big issues in American history and distills them into their most powerful form.”

Also, he enjoys “stepping outside that box” to teach courses on subjects like the British Romantics.

 “I’ve had some wonderful experiences here at LaGrange. I’ve taught in other places, but I haven’t felt as needed. We certainly have some excellent, well-prepared students here, but I think the difference is the relationships I build here are that much more meaningful.”

Learn through relationships

LaGrange College professors and advisers are approachable, accessible and available. They encourage you to explore your possibilities and focus on your individual passions.

In a recent National Survey of Student Engagement, LaGrange ranked high for active and collaborative learning. Not surprising, given that our students live in a hands-on environment, with faculty making every effort to involve them in their scholarly work and research projects.

Here, you will learn from the best. More than 80 percent of our full-time faculty members hold the highest degrees in their fields. Whether your interests lie in the arts, science, business—or anything in between—there’s a path of study waiting for you here. And our accomplished, engaging faculty will guide you along the way.