A Christian College of the Liberal Arts & Sciences

Susan Bruxvoort Lipscomb

Associate Professor of English, Chair, Department of English and Writing; Interim Associate Dean for Arts and Letters

  • 585-567-9640 ext #6400
  • English & Writing
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  • M.A., Ph.D., University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign (1998, 2005)
  • M.A., University of Chicago (1997)
  • B.A., Calvin College (1996)

Just before she started writing novels, the Victorian author George Eliot wrote: “I have never before longed so much to know the names of things…The desire is part of the tendency that is now constantly growing in me to escape from all vagueness and inaccuracy into the daylight of distinct, vivid ideas.”  This quotation identifies something important about the study of literature—the way it helps us name our world.  Eliot had just returned from a visit to the seaside, a visit she spent identifying seaweed and anemones and also preparing to write some of the most important novels of the nineteenth century.  I try to follow Eliot’s example, not in writing eight-hundred-page novels, but in my concern both for words and for the natural world.

My teaching interests center on writers from the Victorian period of English literature (like George Eliot, Charlotte Brontë, Elizabeth Gaskell, and Gerard Manley Hopkins), and literary representations of the natural world.  In recent years, my interest in paying close attention to the natural world also prompted me to think about how to pay closer attention to art.   I’ve been thinking about how the visual arts can prompt theological reflection and recently published an essay on the Madonna and Child paintings of Giovanni Bellini.

Since I finished my doctoral degree and started teaching at Houghton, I’ve taught a variety of writing and literature courses including Literature and Landscape, Victorian Literature and Culture, and Seductive Fictions: the Rise and Development of the English Novel.  I also frequently teach alongside my colleagues from other departments—in Houghton’s honors programs and a course in literature and philosophy that I team-teach with my husband, Ben Lipscomb, from Houghton’s philosophy department.

When I’m not teaching, I enjoy reading, and have published several book reviews.  You can find my review of Paul Mariani’s biography of Gerard Manley Hopkins in Book & Culture and reviews of Paul Harding’s Tinkers in The Cresset.  I’ve also published a couple of my reviews on my own blog.

When I’m not teaching and reading, you’ll find me in the garden, tending a large plot of vegetables and herbs with my three children: Josephine, Ernest, and Ralph.