For Dan Colson, new assistant professor of English, teaching is something he has always wanted to do. He recently graduated with a Ph.D. in American Literature from the University of Illinois and is starting his first semester teaching at Emporia State.
“Why would anyone not want to be a teacher?” Colson said. “It’s the best thing. I get to talk to people about novels and plays and poems all the time, and that’s one of my favorite things to do. I would do that even if I wasn’t teaching, so why not teach and do it a little more formally?”
Colson came to ESU with a strong academic record, references from colleagues, and several Teaching Excellence Awards from graduate school.
“It’s an honor any time your students appreciate what you do,” Colson said in reference to his awards.
Mel Storm, interim chair of the English department, agreed. He said that at ESU, a strong track record is important, and it played a large part in Colson being hired.
Storm said that Colson will be taking up the baton when Richard Keller, professor of English, retires after this year. Storm said he is delighted that Colson is at ESU and he is “really glad to see him start out here.”
Colson chose to work at the college level because he wanted “smart” students, who are involved in discussions and can teach him as he teaches them.
Colson said there is a real feeling of community at ESU, and people are kind and friendly, which is different than what he is used to.
Kayla Bauck, senior secondary education major, said that she already enjoys her two classes with Colson, Later American Literature and The Jewish American Novel.
“I can tell he’s going be tough,” Bauck said. “The very first day of class, he hands us the syllabus for the Jewish American literature class. . .we have daily readings and two papers. One of them is 10 pages long and the other is 15 to 20 (pages),” Bauck said.
Bauck added that if a paper is long enough to make a classroom full of English majors groan, it will definitely be a tough paper.
“But other than that…I like him,” she said. “He seems like a pretty cool guy.”
Colson’s dissertation was on anarchy and the literary texts associated with it, which he said he found to be a fascinating topic.
“I mean, who doesn’t want to read about things blowing up,” Colson joked.
But he found that it was also about people who were strongly invested in bettering others’ lives.
Colson said he believes in doing a little bit of work every day, so that it does not feel like work, which he said he learned from a favorite author, Ernest Hemingway.
“(Hemingway) would get up every morning, and he had a certain amount of words he was going to write during that day,” Colson said.
Colson’s advice to future teachers is, “Remember why you started. It’s easy to get down on it and just feel overwhelmed, but remember why you started going into something.”