Lee University professors of English published in academic journals
Associate Professor of English Dr. Chad Schrock and Professor of English Dr. Kevin Brown have recently been highlighted for their work in academia.
Schrock's article "The Borderlands of Belief: Phil Rickman's Merrily Watkins Mysteries" was published in the Christianity and Literature journal in August. Schrock is no stranger to having work published, as he currently has 12 articles published with a 13th in the works.
Schrock's article delves into the mystery novel series where protagonist and Anglican exorcist Merrily Watkins uncovers both natural and supernatural mysteries.
Schrock said the fun subject matter prompted him to begin reading the series and later realized he was thinking in excess about the linking of the series to Christianity and a pluralist society.
"My article isn't really about what I learned from [the series]. It's more analytical," Schrock said. "What the article says is in a world that is pretty much pluralist—the word I used [in the article is] post-secularist—the intellectual and cultural world is open to the supernatural, but they're not really interested in religion per say."
Merrily Watkins' church is not interested in the supernatural but is instead more tied to the state. Due to such alliances, according to Schrock, no one in the series believes in her.
"She's trying to do her job at the same time she's dealing with crisis of faith in her own life," Schrock said. "It's really a sort of interesting belief and doubt series. It helped me understand what role Christianity could play in a pluralist society as opposed to one that isn't a Christian nation."
Schrock explains Merrily Watkins is an exorcist, or a "delivery consultant," as the novel refers to her. She has rituals of prayer, but the catch is they almost never turn out the way she initially prayed for them to.
"She'll pray, and something good will happen, but it's hardly ever what she asked to happen," Schrock said. "That's almost always how I am. I'm surprised by the outcome of things, which kind of keeps me humble."
Schrock also explores the author of the series, Phil Rickman, who is not a Christian despite writing about a Christian protagonist.
"I was very interested in seeing what about Christianity interested him enough for him to invest so much time," Schrock said. "This is a 14-book series, so it's his life work. What's in it for him?"
Schrock said that because he typically does not write about work by an author who is still alive, he wanted to make sure that the author knew he had been well-read.
"I was always a reader," Schrock said. "My earliest memories are of me reading. In my head, there was never a time I wasn't reading. Writing [the article] has reconfirmed to me that reading and writing are relational."
Schrock writes to keep himself healthy, growing and challenged.
"I try to choose topics that are meaningful for the kingdom of God," Schrock said. "I teach research classes so I'm always grounded in that process. If I'm doing it myself, the stuff I learn can influence what I teach. It keeps me, as a thinker and as a teacher, fresh, alive and excited."
Schrock received a bachelor's degree from Pensacola Christian College, a Master of Divinity from Eastern Mennonite University, a master's degree in English from James Madison University and a doctorate in medieval literature from Pennsylvania State University.
Also from the English department, Brown recently had two essays accepted for publication in online newsletters and anthologies. His essay "Why I Stopped Giving Exams" will appear in the online newsletter The Teaching Professor.
Brown writes creatively and academically, with three collections of poetry, two non-fiction works, a book of scholarship and various essays and critical articles published.
According to Brown, his academic writing springs from his teaching.
"If I teach a story in class that I think is interesting and I read through the criticism or no one's talking about it, then I write it down," Brown said. "Sometimes it's strictly how I teach and sometimes it's something we talked about in class that I don't think anyone else is talking about."
Brown said he attempts to model good habits of writing to students in his classes by sharing with students the nuts and bolts of writing.
"Sometimes it's just helping [students] find something to say," Brown said. "I had a professor that was the smartest person I've ever met, and I hated him the first semester I had him. I despised him. But what I figured out the next semester as I started liking him was that he was trying to make me think. For that reason, I'm very empathetic on getting students to just keep writing."
According to Brown, if he can teach students that literature matters, they are more likely in the future to pick up a book than they are if they just memorized the information for an exam.
This belief was solidified, he said, when he was in his office talking to a student who was trying to pass the Praxis teaching exam to receive her education certification.
According to Brown, the student had taken the exam twice before and failed both times, despite the fact she had done all the studying and preparing with an elaborate notebook she carried around.
The student explained to Brown that all of her life she had gotten through school on flashcards, but now flashcards were not working. Brown said all he could think was that he had failed her.
Brown said he could not find exams he thought covered what was really important in his classes and grew tired of only getting answers from students that strictly conveyed what he told his students in class.
With this realization, Brown decided to stop giving exams in his classes.
"After learning all of this, I wrote this article," Brown said. "The main point was, 'Here's why you should consider not giving exams.'"
Brown said his decision to stop giving exams has been freeing for him, and he hopes it has been for the students as well.
"On the course evaluations, someone said that it was the first time in college she felt like she was learning because she cared, not because she was studying for some exam to make an 'A,'" Brown said.
Brown received a bachelor's degree from Milligan College, a Master of Library and Information Science from the University of Alabama and a master's degree from East Tennessee State University. He also earned a Master of Fine Arts from Murray State University and a doctorate from the University of Mississippi.
For more information on Lee University's Language and Literature Department, visit their website.