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Dr. Sarah E. Whitney

Whitney lgLecturer in English and Coordinator of Women’s Studies Minor

Dr. Whitney has had the honor of being the first faculty member to be named an administrative fellow in Penn State Behrend's Administrative Fellowship Program. Modeled after a successful program at University Park, the program pairs staff and faculty members with an administrative mentor to help them broaden their professional experiences at Penn State, be introduced to the complex challenges facing higher education today, and gain valuable experience in the area of academic leadership. She also chairs Penn State Behrend's annual Gender Conference, in which students, staff, faculty and members of the community gather to explore a number of thought-provoking gender issues, from sexual and domestic violence prevention to gender and aging to the operation of gender in popular culture.

Education: Ph.D. and M.A., University of Virginia; B.A., College of William and Mary

Academic and research interests: My current book project is about post-feminist Gothic; in other words, narratives of horror written by women writers in the 1980s and beyond.  I have also written about feminist and post-feminist literature, detective fiction, and women in contemporary television.

What courses do you teach? I teach a variety of courses in Women’s Studies (usually literature-based) as well as British literature, composition and technical/business writing.

What can students expect when they take one of your courses? I hope they learn to take ideas (including their own) seriously, to have respect for their work, and to understand the deep power that language holds for each of us.

What is your favorite course to teach? Why? I really enjoy ENGL/WMNST 194: Women Writers and their Worlds, because it’s a great cross section of people, and I love watching students encounter some of the ideas in the works for the first time.  ENGL/WMNST 490: The Literature of Girlhood, is also a favorite of mine because it’s a sustained semester-long exploration of one subject, and because I enjoy helping students create seminar papers that they can use in professional conferences.

How would you describe yourself as a teacher? I take work seriously but I don’t always take myself seriously in the classroom. Most of all, I hope that my enthusiasm for reading and writing is contagious!

What do you like best about teaching at Penn State Behrend? Classes are usually small in size, students are very friendly, and I value the opportunity to get to know colleagues in diverse academic fields. Behrend is a place with a strong sense of community.

What’s your favorite...

Book?Villette by Charlotte Bronte, and Middlemarch by George Eliot

Movie? I don’t have a favorite movie, but on TV I enjoy Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Alias

Music/band? If it comes from the 80s, I tend to like it.

What are some of your hobbies/pastimes? Reading mystery novels, jogging, antiquing, and trying out toddler-friendly recipes.

What advice can you give students to succeed both in college and in life? Be relentlessly curious. Learning is a lifelong process.  Also – take notes on everything! You never know when you will need them.

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