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English Department
First Floor, Wendell Phillips Center
Amy Smith
Department Chair
College of the Pacific

Courtney Lehmann

Courtney LehmannPacific is a teacher’s dream. Where else could a Shakespeare course be titled “Bastards, Moors, and Whores”?

In our department, we have the freedom to teach any course we want—and the result is a bevy of tantalizing offerings.

Not only do I get to teach classes that excite me, like “Sports and Scandal” and “Bloody, Bawdy, Villains,” I also get to work closely with individual students every day.

That’s what has always appealed to me about Pacific: our extraordinary student-teacher ratio is more than a marketing tool, it’s a reality.

The very first course I taught here had only three students, so I was able to run it as an intimate seminar in which we pored over the poetry of the English Renaissance, wrestling with and wringing from each word a personal significance.

Freedom of interpretation is what I value most in the classroom; although I don’t subscribe to the school of thought that “there’s no such thing as a stupid question,” I firmly believe that there’s no such thing as a wrong answer when engaging in literary exploration, so I am always encouraging students to take interpretive risks and venture outside of their personal “comfort zones.”

Shakespeare is particularly conducive to this approach because he invented the fortuitous mistake.

Shakespeare’s plays are littered with errors—like using the wrong “Earl of March” as a character in 1 Henry IV—but his errors become our opportunities, because we can spend an entire class period exploring the lechery and treachery embedded in the bloodlines of the English nobility.

One of the highlights of this course is our annual field trip to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, where we work with the Festival actors in stage combat seminars, attend plays, go whitewater rafting down the Rogue River, and enjoy the shops and many decadent dining options that this beautiful town has to offer.

Yes indeed, teaching at Pacific is “the good life.”

 PDF Curriculum Vitae