Meet Robert Alexander, Professor of English and Director of the University’s Writing Program
Friday, April 20, 2012
Robert Alexander, Ph.D., professor of English and director of the University’s writing program, has been teaching at Point Park for 40 years. He has given numerous presentations and published several pieces on Old English and early English drama. Alexander earned a bachelor’s degree from Bowdoin College and a M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin – Madison.
For fall 2012, he is helping to launch a series of new, one-credit studio writing courses designed by Sarah Perrier, Ph.D., assistant professor of English. These courses are open to all undergraduate students. In an interview, Alexander talked about the benefits of the new courses and ways to be a more proficient writer.
What are the benefits of the new studio writing courses?
These new courses are designed to provide students with additional opportunities to improve their writing through small groups, conferences, and lab time. Students who enroll in one of these courses will benefit from receiving individualized instruction on their writing for an entire semester.
Our ultimate goal is to produce competent writers. Like so many things that require time and practice, learning how to write well is a process that cannot always be broken down into testable units or a checklist of tasks to complete.
What classes do you teach?
- English Composition I and II
- World Literature I and II
- Medieval Literature
- History of the English Language
What makes a proficient writer and how can students improve their writing?
When writing about literature and research on literature, the best writing has a strong textual analysis. The thesis is subtle, multi-faceted, and provides a good structure for the paper. Information literacy, the way information is found and used, is often an area where students can improve their writing.
Why is it so important for students to be proficient writers?
Proficiency in writing (and in mathematics as well) is important because these skills are foundations for success in everything students do in school and outside of school before and after graduation. Moreover, students' ability to analyze problems and express themselves will help them to live their own lives as opposed to doing what they are told by others.
What do you like most about teaching at Point Park?
I love studying and talking about literature and writing and hearing students' insights about these subjects.
Where have Point Park’s English majors gone on to work after graduation?
Graduates of the English program work in a variety of fields such as fiction, poetry, publishing, law, business, public relations, journalism, higher education, and secondary education English. Majoring in English provides a solid basis for entering graduate school as well as many different kinds of professional work.
Photo by Leah Irwin, photojournalism major