Union College is excited to welcome Deanne Sparks to campus as a member of the English faculty. She is coming to us from Portland Adventist Academy, where she taught English and drama classes. Before that, Deanne taught at institutions across the country and even a college in Norway. She is finishing her doctoral studies in English literature from the University of North Dakota. One of Deanne’s classroom goals is to show students why the literature they are reading matters. “When I’m teaching,” she said, “I always want to explore the connections to the 21st century. I always ask, ‘How can I make this relevant?’ because if we’re just reading, you could do that on your own time.”
Deanne specializes in multicultural literature, literature relating to criminal justice, food studies and medical humanities. “Medical humanities is an interdisciplinary group of studies that really highlights how history, writing and English narratives can create not just a comprehensive clinical experience but can create a better relationship in the clinical experience between patient and practitioner. Bringing the humanities in is a way of increasing empathy and knowledge of stereotypes,” she shared.
“I am a sixth-generation Adventist on both sides of my family. My father was a minister, and if you put all of my family members together, you could run a whole boarding school, complete with special education and a cafeteria. Calling is very much a part of the family culture that I come from. We view that you not only work within the church, but you also provide mission and service,” said Deanne. “Those values I was raised with are part of my identity.”
By Annika Cambigue, sophomore English and communication major