Dr. Mary Beth Tegan is an associate professor of English in Saint Xavier University’s College of Arts and Sciences, as well as the director of the Undergraduate Honors Program.Her primary field of focus is British Literature and feminism in literature, though she does teach a wide variety of courses for the Department of Language and Literature and the Honors Program.
This past year, Dr. Tegan was a major asset in developing, organizing, and implementing the Oxford Study Abroad Program into the list of study abroad options available for students, with its first session occurring this past May. Dr. Tegan’s hope is that the program’s success this year will bring it more exposure and interest from future prospective students looking into study abroad options and that the Oxford program will grow and thrive as a result. If anyone is interested in learning more about the Oxford Study Abroad Program, if anyone is interested, please refer back to the August 31 issue of The Xavierite.
Two weeks ago, I was able to contact Dr. Tegan and interview her briefly about her background in literature, her courses, and her philosophy in teaching, and – despite having had her for six courses so far, as well as having her as my Honors adviser – I managed to learn a little more about one of my favorite Saint Xavier professors.
GL: What and where did you study as an undergraduate student?
MBT: As an undergrad, I studied at California State University, Chico. Initially, I was studying as a business marketing student before I went to receive my MA in English with an emphasis in Rhetoric and Composition and then went on to receive my PhD in English with an emphasis in British Literature and Feminist Theory.
GL: Yes, I remember you mentioning that you switched fields at one point during Honors FYS. What was it that caused you to realize you wanted to switch from business marketing to English?
MBT: Actually, believe it or not, it was a study abroad experience that made me realize it. Before I got there, I was just sort of wandering around and I was feeling generally uninspired as a student. So I attended a study abroad program in London and I remember that I took all theater and literature classes when I was there, and I absolutely loved them. It was during that time that I realized that I was going down the wrong path and that I needed to make a change for something more suitable to my passions and so in the end, that was what brought me back to the university to pursue and get my degree in English. I’m really glad it did.
GL: What do you hope your students take away from your courses after you’ve finished teaching them? How do you hope to impact them once they leave?
MBT: Oh wow… I hope that they leave with a keen sense of the power of language and the good and bad it can do. I also hope that through reading, my students develop more empathy and imagination that help them deal with a complex world.
GL: Do you have a random fact about yourself that you feel comfortable sharing with us?
MBT: One of the things that I do… See, there’s sometimes a struggle for students and professors alike to just sit down and write. My antidote for that frustration of writing and the lack of it is that I make things with my hands. I like to do things like sew or repurpose furniture.