Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2001





Publication Title

ADE Bulletin


Two years ago I left the ADE conference brimming with ideas to apply to my first weeks of a three-year appointment as chair of Dickinson College's largest department, with seventeen full-time faculty members, two newly appointed that year. Listening to the issues raised in Purchase helped me assess my department's strengths and needs and gave me a healthy sense of the limitations of a chair's agency. Intuitively I turned my habits as a reader-response critic and framer of course syllabi toward shaping a few departmental themes for my first year as chair. I worked from three main principles, suited both to my temperament and to the tenor of the times at Dickinson. These were, first, to build departmental community; second, to harness rather than dissipate energy; and, third, to address multiple audiences simultaneously. The political climate offered opportunities to put a new stamp on the direction of the department. To wit, for entirely benign reasons, I was to be the fourth department chair in four years. We had just hired two new faculty members in the department after a lull of a half dozen years. And, importantly, Dickinson trustees had appointed a new, energetic, and ambitious president whose favorite word seemed to be entrepreneurial.


This published version is made available on Dickinson Scholar with the permission of the publisher. For more information on the published version, visit ADE's (Association of Departments of English) Website.

© 2001 by The Association of Departments of English