Margaret Stahr '00, Professor
Margaret Stahr joined Catawba's English faculty in 2008 after she earned her Ph.D. in English from the University of Pittsburgh. She is new to North Carolina, having grown up in Wisconsin and lived mostly in the Midwest. In addition to teaching courses in composition and advanced writing, Dr. Stahr enjoys teaching introductory and interdisciplinary literature courses. Her scholarship explores the interactions between first-year college students and writing center peer tutors.
Stahr wrote the following while she was a Ph.D. candidate:
"When I entered DePauw as a student a few years ago, I intended to major in biology and to enroll in medical school upon graduation. Somewhere along the way, that changed. I became an English major. I tutored in the Writing Center. I realized how much I enjoyed trying to put my thoughts about the texts I was reading into words. Like everyone, I struggled to make my thoughts as vivid and lucid on the page as they were in my head. I struggled to make them more clear there, too.
Fast forward a few years and I’m on my way, I hope, to becoming an English professor. Ultimately, I majored in English – and want to teach English – because I believe it is important to pay attention to words and think hard about what they mean and why they matter.
When you study difficult texts in English, you study them to understand them in some way. And to do that, you have to think and analyze and reason. The challenge in reading difficult texts – any text, really – is determining what meanings it supports and what meanings it doesn’t support. To do this requires close reading, critical thinking, sharp observation, and, ultimately, careful interpretation. These are mental processes that when developed in relation to literary texts can be applied to all kinds of texts in other disciplines and contexts. Graduate programs – law school, medical school, other academic programs - and employers look for students who think sharply. Studying English fosters such sharp, critical thinking.
When you study English at DePauw, you work with amazing teachers. My professors constantly pushed me - and still do - to be a better thinker and scholar, better even than I knew I could be. I admire the way the teachers in this department embrace their work with such vigor and enthusiasm. Even when the papers begin piling up at midterm, they find time to work with students who ask for help. One-on-one and in the classroom, they ask good questions, illuminate tough concepts, and place student learning at the center of what they do."