Division of Humanities
Brian Norman '99
Major: French, Women’s Studies, Environmental Studies
- Associate Professor of English and director of African and African-American Studies
- Loyola University, Maryland
“In my classes, I aim to train students in the art of careful thought and attentive reading so that they can ask big questions of the world and be equipped to pursue them, be it about a pressing political issue of the day or an enduring question of what it means to be human. And to know that such big questions have been asked before, if we know where to look. The biggest reward in my teaching is that moment when a student pauses mid thought and returns to her book to think anew about a difficult topic of discussion.
“The humanities trained me to value both clear principles (justice, dignity, etc.) and the ambiguities of human experience. Now I try to create in my own classrooms the conditions for creating scholar-citizens who are capable of both sharp thought and analytical complexity. And of course writing: my English classes in particular taught me the value of the written word in all its wonder and power. It’s taken me a while, but with each new project—be it a scholarly book on American literature, an op-ed on religious pluralism, or a family letter about marrying my husband—I get a bit better at capturing big, messy ideas in clear writing.”