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Faculty

Mara Amster

Image of Mara AmsterProfessor of English
B.A., Duke University; M.A., University of Virginia; Ph.D., University of Rochester
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While I teach Shakespeare, Renaissance Drama, Women Writers, and the first half of the British Literature survey, I think I am famous (infamous, perhaps?) for my Renaissance Literature class, subtitled “Unruly Women.” In this upper-level course, we examine a wealth of writing (drama, poetry, medical treatises, legal documents, royal proclamations, and sermons) that concerns itself with the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries most unruly women: prostitutes, murderesses, witches, and virgins. The class, based on my own scholarly research on female sexuality, gendered representations, and Renaissance literature and culture, allows us to make connections between life in the 21st century and life in the 17th century; the concerns that preoccupied and even obsessed our Renaissance writers — the bodies, minds, and souls of women — often sound quite familiar to us.

In all my classes, students discover that while Renaissance writing may seem dated, it still has the power to shock, fascinate, amuse, and disturb us. It can be silly, scary, or sexy, or sometimes all three simultaneously.

In 2005-06 I was a Visiting Research Associate at the Women’s Studies Research Center at Brandeis University. While there I completed work on a two-volume anthology – Texts on Prostitution, 1592-1633 and Texts on Prostitution, 1635-1700 – that was published in February 2007. Currently I am working on The Purchase of Pleasure: Representing Prostitution and the Early Modern Market, a book that examines seventeenth-century representations of prostitution and its relationship to pleasure, performance, pornography, and profit.

Gary Dop

Image of Gary DopAssociate Professor of English
B.S., North Central University; M.A., University of Nebraska at Kearney; M.F.A., University of Nebraska
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Gary Dop – poet, playwright, and performer – began teaching at Randolph in 2013, when he moved from Minneapolis with his wife and three daughters. His first collection of poems Father, Child, Water (Red Hen Press 2015), sold out of its first print run of 1000 copies in only two months, and Gary enjoys regularly presenting his work throughout the country.

Gary’s writing has appeared in many national literary journals, including Prairie Schooner, New Letters, Agni, North American Review, Blackbird, Rattle, Poetry Northwest, and the Poetry Foundation’s column American Life in Poetry. His essays and poems have been heard on public radio’s All Things Considered through American Public Media. He has written, directed, and consulted for video and film projects, and his plays have been produced in small venues around the country.

In 2013, Gary was awarded the Great Plains Emerging Writer Award, and in 2011 The Pushcart Prize Anthology highlighted his poetry with a Special Mention. In 2009, Dop was one of five poets to qualify for the top rated performance poetry team in the country.

Before coming to Randolph, Gary was the writer in residence at North Central University, and he taught screenwriting in the University of Minnesota’s MFA program.

Gary is on the editorial board of Spark Wheel Press, and prior to moving to Lynchburg, he served on the board of Rain Taxi Review of Books, an organization he still helps each year with the Twin Cities Book Festival. For fun, he leads workshops for schools and community organizations, and he enjoys acting, emceeing, and comedy.

For more information and links to his work: www.garydop.com

Heidi Kunz

Image of Heidi KunzProfessor of English
B.A., College of William and Mary; M.A., Ph.D., Vanderbilt University
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At Randolph College I teach the written expression of the United States, interdisciplinary studies, and transnational studies of the sea and of science in literature.

Beyond the classroom, I recently directed the Tenth International F. Scott Fitzgerald Conference (Baltimore, 2009), and currently serve on Board of Directors of the F. Scott Fitzgerald Society as well as the Editorial Board of the F. Scott Fitzgerald Review. As a scholar I tend to “follow my bliss” wherever the footnotes lead: when a great book drops a name, that name often leads off the page and into fascinating episodes of cultural history. My publications in 2012, for example, examine Nathaniel Hawthorne’s reaction to the celebrity of astronomer Maria Mitchell, the first American to discover a telescopic comet (in 1847); the impact on Fitzgerald of early “physical culturist” Bernarr McFadden, whose exercise demonstrations earned him multiple arrests for public indecency yet whose relationship advice tracts sold by the millions; the opinions Edith Wharton held of her own writing; and the singular achievement of Southern novelist Augusta Jane Evans, the best-selling nineteenth-century writer whose passionate Confederate convictions cost her nothing in readership yet everything in literary reputation.

Certain pastimes – scouring antique shops for flint glass and phrenologists’ heads, digging with the archaeologists at Jamestown, St. Mary’s City, and St. George (Bermuda), celestial navigation – inevitably find their way into my courses.

Dan Stiffler

Image of Dan StifflerProfessor of English
B.S., Oregon College of Education; B.A., M.A., Ph.D., University of Oregon
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I am strictly old-school: you can’t find me on Facebook; you can’t follow me on Twitter; you can’t even reach me on a cell-phone, because I don’t own one. Whenever possible, I listen to music on vinyl and read words on paper, finding analogue more engaging than digital. Consequently, the text itself is my primary teaching tool. Without a physical book at hand, I am without a compass.

I fell for Shakespeare in my late teens and have, ever since, believed that great literature rewards a close reading with the revelation of truth—even if every word is fiction. I also believe that great literature rewards multiple readings, meaning I return to my well-marked books with anticipation. I am an unabashed proselytizer for Moby-Dick, the American response to Shakespeare.

FWIW: Bob Dylan deserves to win the Nobel Prize for literature.

Laura-Gray Street

Image of Laura-Gray StreetAssociate Professor of English
B.A., Hollins College; M.A., University of Virginia; M.F.A., Warren Wilson College
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Laura-Gray Street’s work has appeared in Many Mountains Moving, The Human Genre Project, Isotope, Gargoyle, From the Fishouse, ISLE, Shenandoah, Meridian, Blackbird, Poetry Daily, The Notre Dame Review, The Greensboro Review, and elsewhere; selected by George Garrett for Best New Poets 2005; commissioned by the New York Festival of Song; and included in Pivot Points, an exhibition of poets and painters that traveled internationally.

Street has received a Poetry Fellowship from the Virginia Commission for the Arts, the Editors’ Prize in Poetry from Isotope, the Emerging Writer in Poetry Award for the Southern Women Writers Conference, the Dana Award in Poetry, and The Greensboro Review’s Annual Literary Award in Poetry, and fellowships at the VCCA and the Artist House at St. Mary’s College in Maryland.

She is co-editing an anthology of ecopoetry that is forthcoming from Trinity University Press, and her poetry collection Rung was short listed for the 2009 Benjamin Saltman Award with Red Hen Press. Street has an MA in English from the University of Virginia and an MFA in poetry from Warren Wilson’s Program for Writers.

Street also teaches in the Environmental Studies Department and serves on the board of two local environmental groups, the Greater Lynchburg Environmental Network (GLEN) and the Central Virginia Land Conservancy (CVaLC).

Some of her work can be read at…

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