People of Eastern: Dr. Bittenbender: A conversation with Eastern’s longest-tenured English professor.

Dr. Christopher Bittenbender has been a part of Eastern’s staff since 1998, making him the longest-tenured English professor currently on the staff. Bittenbender grew up in Northeastern PA, close to the Wilkes-Barre area, and was raised on a farm. “I do miss it,” said Dr. Bittenbender when asked about the farm life. He now resides in Center City Philadelphia, a far cry from the country, though he finds that the city lifestyle also has its perks. He loves going to museums in the city—he specifically noted the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where his fiancé works—and enjoys the fact that they showcase local artists. 

Art is obviously a big part of who Bittenbener is, as he has an appreciation of film, music, and literature. “Art has an ability to tap into the world in creative and innovative ways,” said Bittenbender. His love for literature stemmed from professors he had back in college. He was originally a history major, and while he still does have a lot of passion for history, his love for literature overtook that. 

For seniors out there beginning their thesis project, Dr. Bittenbender was also once in the same position. His thesis was focused on David Jones, who wrote In Parenthesis, a World War I epic poem that drops readers right into the trenches. His graduate school program took him all the way to Scotland, where he spent four years. He studied Irish and Scottish literature at the University of St. Andrews, which was founded in 1413. After coming back to the United States, Dr. Bittenbender worked as an adjunct professor at Villanova before taking a job at Eastern. The rest is history, and he is now coming up on his 25th year here. He cites the community, environment, and the students as reasons for his love of Eastern. 

For those who only know Bittenbender as an English professor, he has two children of his own that are in college and is also an outdoorsman. He loves hiking, canoeing, and skiing, which stemmed from his time studying at Middlebury College in Vermont. In between his undergraduate program and graduate school, he helped his father and brother build a log cabin in the Poconos. 

While the beginning of the year can be stressful, Bittenbender wanted to remind students to take risks. While college is a time where it can be easy to stay content, Bittenbender said that students should jump on opportunities such as internships, jobs, and clubs on campus—words of wisdom from a professor like Bittenbender who has been at Eastern for nearly a quarter of a decade. 

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