I arrived in Laramie during the summer of 1983, struck at once by the voluminous heavens, intensely azure by day and hauntingly sable at night. My great-grand uncle, Prof. Samuel Aughey, had been the Territorial Geologist a hundred years earlier and served on the original UW Board of Trustees, but I didn't discover this until sometime later. It was hard at first adapting my graduate training to UW students and finding my niche in the English department. But colleagues were warm and supportive, colleagues not just in English but geology, history, anthropology, philosophy, languages, and in the library and AHC. I began collecting my own library for use in teaching and research, and this has remained one of my great passions.
In those early years I discovered how to take the next step from my doctoral work on Coleridge into research on a fascinating group of nineteenth-century English intellectuals who inherited his ideas and aesthetics, the Cambridge Apostles. I began collecting primary materials for a life one of this circle, John Sterling (1806-1844), and realized that an edition of his correspondence was a precondition for the biography. Traveling to and fro upon the earth, I located Sterling manuscripts and made the odd discovery that worked its way into print.
Early in my career it seemed that everyone in the administration and faculty was struggling to affirm the quality of this university, but in recent years there seems to be greater confidence in the actual achievement of that quality. It is possible now for our students to emerge with an education that should be the envy of any institution in the world. Most of the pieces are in place, and an ambitious student can put them together. In my department I've especially enjoyed inventing a course on the novels of Jane Austen and in keeping alive the single-figure course on John Milton. I'm glad to watch students emerge from the English Honors program that I devised in the late 1980s and have come to direct again. I take pleasure in seeing the programs and students associated with Phi Beta Kappa and in working with colleagues in our chapter. UW has supplied me more than a generation of wonderful students, and I love my classes, colleagues, and research.
Department of English