Susan Crisafulli, Ph.D., associate professor of English, English Department chair and Humanities Division head, wants students to love literature and writing and see why these areas are important in the world.
“I am fascinated with how literature transcends time, how it captures the essence of what it means to be a human being,” she said. “Literature allows us to understand better our relationships with others and with the world around us.”
Crisafulli became interested in her field not only because of her fascination with literature but also because of her awe for how language works.
“We read “Romeo and Juliet” in eighth grade, and I remember seeing a list of ‘translations’ in the textbook, such as ‘fie’ meaning ‘for shame,’” Crisafulli said. “I felt like I was entering a different world when I read the play, and I liked the challenge of learning a ‘new language.’”
Crisafulli earned her bachelor of arts in English and bachelor of science in psychology from Presbyterian College in Clinton, S.C. She then attended the University of Tennessee and Vanderbilt University, where she earned her master’s degree in English and her doctorate in medieval literature, respectively. She also taught literature, composition and film at both universities while earning her master’s degree.
After earning her doctorate, she taught for one year at Vanderbilt University and then at Rhodes College in Memphis, Tenn.
“My college professors were amazing, and I wanted to be like them,” Crisafulli said. “Teaching in college means that I never have to stop learning, I get to travel and I get to be creative.”
Currently residing in Franklin, Crisafulli has taught at Franklin College for six years. She teaches medieval literature, advanced grammar, Shakespeare, world literature, LA 101, LA 201 and international studies.
Four years ago, Crisafulli worked with James Alexander, lecturer of religion at the college, to create Franklin Advantage, a summer bridge program that helps students develop academically.
Recently, Crisafulli helped with the creation of the creative writing major and initiatives that have increased the number of English majors.
Crisafulli said English majors find it easy to double major in another field, and most enhance their education by studying abroad. They can also pursue undergraduate research projects and have the opportunity to work in the campus writing center, where they help fellow students with writing papers.
“Integrated into our curriculum is our strong internship program, which helps students develop connections and experience, and to see first-hand the roles of literary studies and writing plays in our world,” she said.
She added that nine out of 10 English Department graduates were in graduate school or full-time employment within six months; the tenth student was employed part-time by choice. English majors pursue graduate school in many areas: creative writing, law school, divinity school, master’s in education, MBA, master’s in English and library science; and they are employed in a wide variety of fields, including marketing, sales, education, non-profit management, publishing, literacy and technical communication.
“I want our students to get the best education possible, so my colleagues and I updated the English curriculum to create opportunities for students to connect with each other and with alumni in order to build relationships and opportunities that enhance their professionalism and career prospects,” Crisafulli said.
Outside Franklin College, Crisafulli presented her research on the “flipped classroom” last March at the Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC) in Las Vegas. She recently facilitated a workshop at this year’s CCCC to teach other professors how to use a flipped classroom to teach writing. She will have an article published in a collection of pedagogical essays, “Implementation and Critical Assessment of the Flipped Classroom Experience,” due out this fall.
Crisafulli is currently working on another article for publication about the gardens in Chaucer’s “The Canterbury Tales” for the Chaucer Review.
Crisafulli belongs to the Modern Language Association and the National Council of Teachers of English. She has served on two committees for the Franklin Community School Corporation to help with an initiative to increase literacy in the Franklin schools.
She is also a proud lifetime member of Girl Scouts and is a Daisy and Brownie Girl Scout troop leader.
In 2006, Crisafulli received the 2006 Thomas Daniel Young Award for Teaching at Vanderbilt. Then in 2012, she was named the Franklin College Academic Adviser of the Year, which she considers a very high honor. In May 2014, she received the Clifford and Paula Dietz Award for Faculty Excellence from her peers.
“I tell my advisees that it is their job to dream and my job to help them achieve their dreams; I work tirelessly for them, so receiving the Academic Adviser of the Year in 2012 was very meaningful to me,” she said.
Crisafulli said she remains excited about teaching at the college because she loves seeing students pursue and achieve their dreams and watching them have experiences they never thought would be possible when they arrived.
“Some students see the English and creative writing majors as impractical; in response, I share with those students my favorite quotation: ‘Don’t ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go and do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive’ – Gil Bailie,” Crisafulli said. “If students pursue what they love, they will excel in whatever career they seek.”
Crisafulli is available to discuss the English Department and what a Franklin College liberal arts degree as an English or creative writing major or minor can do for you. Schedule a visit by contacting the Office of Admissions at (800) 852-0232.
Founded in 1834, Franklin College is a residential, liberal arts institution with a scenic, wooded campus, spanning 207 acres, including athletic fields and a 31-acre biology woodland. Students enjoy the comfort and safety of suburban living, while also experiencing the many opportunities Indianapolis has to offer with a short 20-minute drive to downtown. The college prepares students to think independently, to lead responsibly and to serve with integrity in their professions, their communities and the world. The college offers its more than 1,000 students Bachelor of Arts degrees in 51 majors from 25 academic disciplines, 42 minors, 11 pre-professional programs and five cooperative programs. In 1842, the college began admitting women, becoming the first coeducational institution in Indiana and the seventh in the nation. Franklin College maintains a voluntary association with the American Baptist Churches USA. For more information, visit www.FranklinCollege.edu. Find Franklin College on Facebook and follow @FranklinCollege on Twitter.