Professor profile: Dr. Kristen Renzi

By: Taylor Fulkerson ~Opinion & Editorial Editor~

Dr. Kristen Renzi, who specializes in Victorian and transatlantic 19th century literature, is new to Xavier’s English department this year. She has both her Ph.D. and MFA in poetry from Indiana University. The Newswire sat down with her to talk about her academic interests, teaching and classwork, personal reading habits and everything in between.

Xavier Newswire: Could you explain your academic interests a little bit?

Kristen Renzi: I study literature from the late 19th and early 20th centuries produced both in Britain and America, particularly when the ideas/issues this literature raises engage with each other across national boundaries. I’m particularly interested in issues of gender, race, sexuality and class in the context of early transatlantic feminist movements.

XN: Which classes will you be teaching here at Xavier?

KR: I’ll be teaching courses in 19th and early 20th century British and transatlantic literature, critical theory and poetry (from both literary and creative angles). I also teach Literature and the Moral Imagination.

XN: Who is your favorite author?

KR: That’s not a fair question (laughs). You should ask me what I like that I’m reading right now.

XN: Then what do you like that you’re reading right now?

KR: One of my longtime favorite writers is Wisława Szymborska, a Polish poet who received a Nobel prize. She’s witty, philosophical and very very smart. Also, Carson McCullers’s “The Member of the Wedding”: it’s achingly human, one of the best books I’ve ever read. I’m also reading “The Book of Disquiet” by Fernando Pessoa, a Portuguese poet.

XN: Do you look forward to teaching any particular classes?

KR: I look forward to teaching a wide range of classes to both majors and non-majors alike. I particularly like teaching poetry, especially since most folks don’t feel comfortable with it. I like helping people gain confidence reading poems and witnessing them experience poetry’s power.

XN: What are some of your hobbies or interests outside of your academic work?

KR: The great thing about being an English professor is that I often am able to incorporate my interests into my course design. I love documentary film and the history of science, interests which frequently find their way into my courses. I also draw and photograph, and I write and bind my own artist books. I recently made some germ paintings in Albers with some colleagues from other departments. I guess I’m just generally curious. Sometimes I do math for fun, too