Anna James, Ph.D.

“My teaching is rooted in the idea that genuine learning takes place when we make space for and encourage each student’s unique curiosity and creativity. I believe the classroom can be a transformative space in which the process of learning together means we can end the course as different—possessing new skills, inspired by new interests, and intrigued by new questions—than who we were at the beginning of the term.”


Assistant Professor of English

Educational Background

  • Ph.D., University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Va.
  • M.A., University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Va.
  • B.A., University of Toronto, Toronto, Ont.

Year Joined Franklin


Why is studying literature so important?

If we want to understand our world and our place in it, and if we want to be engaged participants in today’s—and tomorrow’s—events, then we need to engage with the words, ideas, and stories of our past and our present. Literature invites new ways of seeing the world that empower us to (re)discover ourselves as well as the communities and places to which we belong. So why study literature? I think Lorraine Hansberry said it best: “The highest gift that [we have] is art, and…there is both joy and beauty and illumination and communion between people to be achieved through the dissection of personality.”

What are some of the unique things that I learn in English courses?

One of the best things about taking English courses is that learning takes place on a variety of levels, often simultaneously. At the same time that we’re developing and enriching specific language skills like verbal argumentation and scholarly writing, we’re also encountering and contemplating new histories, philosophies, and subcultures. And, of course, we’re learning more about ourselves. All of that is to say that what you learn in English courses isn’t reducible to any one thing: instead, it’s an unfolding conversation with and about the complexity of the world around us as we interact with it through language.

My favorite book is…

That’s an impossible question to answer! Honestly, it changes all the time—and there are so many amazing books I still have yet to read—but some of my recent favorites have been works by Cameron Awkward-Rich, Louise Erdrich, and Julie Otsuka.