Recently, the English department underwent several revisions to the major. These revisions include a new rotating professorship position, endowed in the name of Kent and Mimi Dixon, who taught for 33 years at Wittenberg before their official retirement last year.
The Kent and Mimi Dixon Professorship will bring in a different faculty member each semester to teach creative writing in the English department. The initial funds for the position came as a donation from the Dixons’ son, Chris, and the university will work to gather the rest of the $500,000 needed for the endowment.
“The whole thing was her [Dr. Richards’s] initiative,” said Kent Dixon. “She contacted our son. It was a surprise to us.”
Though the official hire has not yet been made, the candidate being most considered for the position currently is R. Clifton Spargo. Author of the newly published “Beautiful Fools, The Last Affair of Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald,” Spargo has taught creative writing at Yale University, Marquette University, and the University of Iowa. His works have been published in multiple literary magazines, including “Glimmer Train,” “The Antioch Review,” and “FICTION.”
Spargo was narrowed down from more than 70 applicants to the position by Cynthia Richards, chair of the English department, and a creative writing committee. In addition to creative writing, Spargo has had a great deal of training in literary criticism and nonfiction, and studied at Edinburgh University, Yale Divinity School, and Yale University. He has published two books on criticism through The Johns Hopkins University Press and has published reviews with “The Chicago Tribune,” “The Baltimore Sun,” and “Commonwealth,” among other places.
“The new professors will help infuse our program with new ideas, new energy, and new forms,” said Richards in a release about the new position on the Wittenberg website. “They will continue to build the reputation of our already flourishing creative writing program.”
The class Spargo is to teach will replace English 403, or Advanced Projects in Creative Writing. Previously, this class was designed for creative writing minors who wished to focus in a specific genre, and was required for students to graduate with a creative writing certificate. Now the course will be taught by this rotating position, bringing a new perspective to the Wittenberg English department.
“I signed up before the subject of next semester’s course was decided, but I knew I would love whatever they offered,” said junior Jeff Hurley, an English major. “It turns out the 403 course is going to be historical fiction, which I have never written in before. I’m excited to broaden my creative skills so that I may become a more well-rounded writer.”
This new class with the rotating faculty will count for the new “Words at Work” category in the revised English major. Spargo will be the first of the visiting professors to come to Wittenberg for the Kent and Mimi Dixon Professorship. There are already students signed up for the English 403 class that he will be teaching in the fall. For more information about Spargo, visit his website at www.rcliftonspargo.com.