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Faculty Profile: Dr. William Storm

EU’s New Resident Medievalist

Dr. William Storm, unlike his tempestuous surname, is the exemplar of order in a classic bowtie and suit jacket. “One of my high school teachers, Mr. Powers, wore bowties and he gave me my first one. And my favorite Muppet is Fozzie, so put those together and those are my bowtie idols.” Walking into the new Visiting Assistant English Professor’s office, you find yourself greeted by two large bookshelves filled with a smattering of texts, the largest and most formidable of them undoubtedly “The Riverside Shakespeare,” a collection that Dr. Storm is particularly affectionate towards because of its stalwart presence throughout various stages of his life. Next to the busy stream of students and faculty walking immediately outside of his office door, the quiet of the inside is peaceful, almost monastic in its atmosphere.

New to Eastern this semester, Dr. Storm teaches three English courses: Milton and the Seventeenth Century, Survey of British Literature, and College Writing. If his discipline was not immediately apparent through his course schedule, perhaps the three postcards of medieval art from the Minneapolis Art Institute plastered on the front of his office door are a giveaway. “I’m a medievalist, I should have something that looks medieval,” Dr. Storm smiles. Earning his PhD from Marquette University, Dr. Storm’s dissertation inspected the various depictions of heaven and creation in two, well-known medieval texts, “Pearl” and “Piers Plowman.” More specifically, the medievalist asked questions of “space and place,” an area of study pioneered by Yi-Fu Tan, author of “Space and Place: The Perspective of Experience,” a text that seeks to understand the ways in which people feel and think about space.

This foundation of “space and place” is still evident in Dr. Storm’s research as seen by the smattering of books on this topic laid out neatly on his desk. Perhaps serving as inspiration or as a reminder of future endeavors, the book titles include “The Practice of Everyday Life,” “Everyday Aesthetics,” and “Critique of Everyday Life,” among others. Dr. Storm hopes to continue his work in the medieval world of literature with an in-depth look at marriage in a variety of texts, specifically focusing on issues of “space and place” within the larger institution of matrimony.

Prior to his dedication to medieval literature, Dr. Storm grew up in New Orleans, Louisiana, attending a private, Jesuit preparatory school – its rigorous academics allowing him to  ultimately recognize the value of literature. “Ever since I was very young, I knew that books mattered,” Dr. Storm elaborates. “I couldn’t probably express why they mattered. But I always knew there was comfort and something of value there.” What triggered these bibliophile tendencies? “The Indian in the Cupboard,” a children’s fantasy novel by British author Lynne Reid Banks, and a note attachd  from his father: “I know how much you love reading, I hope you never stop.” Following this sentiment, Dr. Storm’s education at the New Orleans prep school was fittingly rigorous, where he was continually pushed to read — finding himself reading “Julius Caesar,” “Animal Farm,” “Cat’s Cradle,” etc. Initially pre-med in college due to familial expectation, Dr. Storm fell for his first love once more, earning a B.A. in English Literature at Marquette University. From there, he moved to University of Mississippi for a master’s degree in English. Wishing to pursue this love further, Dr. Storm found himself once again at Marquette, where he earned his PhD, specializing in medieval literature.

When asked about his role at Eastern, Dr. Storm hopes to have “the ability to help students learn about these old things…[for] people read not to have their beliefs confirmed but to have them challenged. I want the books and the texts to do that.” Ultimately, Dr. Storm’s mission for this small, Christian university is hopeful: “I’m here to help. They’ve done such great things. The last thing I want to do is take away from it, so if I can help in any way, to cover courses, to give our students more breadth of the literary experience.” Dr. Storm’s attitude of helpfulness is aimed towards the English department, who the medievalist deems “good people who deserve whatever help I can give.”

Ultimately, Dr. Storm hopes his students see him as passionate, goofy, and fair, a man dedicated to the good of literature. Inspiring dedication throughout the year, Dr. Storm will be teaching Shakespeare, Masterpieces of European Literature, and College Writing next semester. If you need a touch of the medieval in your day, visit Dr. Storm’s office, where you’ll find him reading Chaucer, sipping hot chocolate (not coffee or tea), and listening to a compilation of classical music.

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