Please meet Dr. Steve Frye from the English department.
What is your field of study?
American literature, with sub-specializations in the novel, romanticism, and the literature of the American West.
What is your favorite class to teach?
A course called “American Renaissance,” which deals with the major authors who wrote between 1830 and 1865: Emerson, Thoreau, Whitman, Dickinson, Hawthorne, Melville, and Poe. We always end with my favorite, Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick.
What course are you excited about this coming semester?
Modern drama, which is one of our genre courses for both English majors and upper-division GE students. We’ll read absurdist plays by Ionesco and Beckett, as well as plays in the expressionist, naturalist, and realist traditions by Ibsen, Strindberg, Williams, O’Neill, Shepard, and Wilson. I love to show clips of important scenes and one or two complete plays. The reading experience and the viewing experience are complimentary but distinct. I like to emphasize and encourage both.
What was the last book you read?
Read two in short order in the last two weeks, Albert Camus’s The Fall and Larry McMurtry’s The Last Kind Words Saloon.
What was your worst subject in school?
Kind of the typical response from an English teacher—math.
If you had to make a documentary, what would the subject be?
I think I would explore how environmentalist themes influence the literature of the American West, in authors such as Wallace Stegner, Cormac McCarthy, Louise Erdrich, and Edward Abbey. I’m really interested in how competing notions of environmental concern, from Deep Ecology to contemporary post-humanist conceptions, find their way (sometimes directly and sometimes obliquely) into various novels, short stories, essays, poems, and plays. This topic would lend itself to many great visuals.
What do you do for fun and relaxation?
I’m lucky enough to work doing what I enjoy most. So I read and attend plays and concerts regularly. But I also like to take walks, hikes, and various rambles with my wife and our new pup, Sam (short for Samwise Gamgee, Frodo’s loyal friend in Lord of the Rings).
Of course, I live for occasional visits from my grown kids, Melissa and Thomas. Sip a drink, make a meal, chat about anything and everything.
Do you have any advice or thoughts for our students?
Think of education as exactly that, education, not training. Self-actualize for gods-sake!
What are your plans for the Summer Break?
With my family, I’ll head to Ashland, Oregon for our annual one-week trip to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Ashland is a lovely place where we all feel at home. This is our fifteenth consecutive year.
Mostly I’m working, though, editing a collection of essays on Cormac McCarthy for Cambridge University Press, which I hope to complete by September, and doing the initial research for a book I’ll write for Cambridge as well.
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