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Sherry Darrell, Ph.D.

Professor of English, Director of Humanities

In the Sixties, because of oil money, our Panhandle town had excellent schools, and I received a remarkable education, including two years of college math, a year of college English, and a year of college biology all during high school—courses not counting for college credit, but offered because citizens and educators thought we should have them. Consequently, I started college interested in almost every major: painting, literature, European history, Texas geography, math, vulcanology, astronomy, French, philosophy, Old Testament, biology. Somehow, in four years I graduated with two majors, three languages besides English, and two minors.

Then I spent two years in Houston and in Massachusetts working for an international oil-tools company and using my knowledge of world geography and my organizational and writing skills. At night I read—everything by the Brontes, by Hesse, by Hemingway, by Forster, by Balzac—and attended low-cost films and plays and concerts. But at the end of two years, I had saved some money and wanted a graduate degree in something—maybe philosophy, maybe English, maybe theology, maybe law.

Eventually I chose literature, mainly because I loved reading; applied to three schools I considered midwestern (I had already lived in the southwest and the northeast); and attended the one in Tennessee (which, as a Texan, I considered the Midwest). With a brand-new Ph.D., I came to USI, where I’ve researched and taught all the composition courses, even creative writing one semester; all the British and world surveys; law and literature, women and literature, Donne, Spenser, Yeats, Eliot, O’Casey, Synge, Milton, and Shakespeare. Thirty-one years and counting. And that’s just the teaching part of the job.

Though I’ve published and presented papers on Aeschylus, Sophocles, Shakespeare, and many other great writers, now I want to learn, in my last three semesters here, about the Saint George legends and all their representations in art, literature, and music. And I plan to work hard at improving my modern Greek so that I speak without a Texas accent and avoid classical pronunciations; in spring 2008 I want to ride the subways in Athens and shop the markets in the Peloponnese almost like a native.

August 2006