Surry Community College English Instructor Kathleen Fowler of Westfield recently earned her Doctor of Philosophy degree in English from the University of North Carolina – Greensboro with a specialization in early modern literature with two secondary areas of study in medieval literature and rhetoric and composition.
Achieving such a level of higher education meant a great deal of tireless effort on Fowler’s part, as she completed her coursework, directed study, and dissertation over time while continuing to teach five or six courses each semester as a full time instructor at Surry Community College.
“Despite the immense effort it took, Fowler felt a sense of responsibility as an educator to continue her own education and knew that obtaining her doctoral degree would serve as an excellent means of professional development and benefit to her students,” the college said in a recent statement.
Fowler explained her reasoning by saying, “Knowing about and contributing to the latest advances in English scholarship cannot help but improve my bank of experience in teaching literature and writing to the students in my courses.”
Fowler has always had a particular interest in the intersections between religion and medicine as revealed in the literature of the medieval and early modern periods in England, and after reading The Book of Margery Kempe the topic of her dissertation became clear. In The Anatomy of Joy, Fowler investigates the lives of mystics and so-called religious “enthusiasts” of the time specifically examining their approaches to spirituality as recorded in their writings, and the ways in which these approaches influenced their faith communities and the larger society of the time.
Since most similar scholars have opted to focus primarily on the mystics of earlier time periods, Fowler’s work does its part to fill a void in the world of literary research; there is little written about the mystics of the early modern era, which meant in her seven years of research Fowler read a great deal of original work published 400 and 500 years ago. She was able to study these works at libraries such as the Bodleian in Oxford, England, and the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C., after being awarded financial assistance from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Folger Library.