Gregory O'Dea teaches courses in the English-language novel, Restoration and eighteenth-century British literature, British romanticism, postcolonial literature, and literary analysis. He is co-editor of Iconoclastic Departures: Mary Shelley After Frankenstein (Fairleigh Dickinson UP), and his scholarship has appeared in such journals as The South Atlantic Review, Papers on Language and Literature, and the online journal Romanticism on the Net. In addition to directing UTC's interdisciplinary honors program, he is Co-Director and Scholar in Residence for literature and medicine programs sponsored by the American College of Physicians. He has been named Outstanding Professor by UTC's Student Government Association, University Outstanding Advisor, and Outstanding Teacher by The University of Tennessee National Alumni Association. In 2005, The American College of Physicians honored him with the Clifton R. Cleaveland Medical Humanities Award for outstanding contributions to humanism in medicine. His current research concerns crime and criminology in the novels of Charles Dickens.
Research and/or Creative Interests
Medical humanities (literature, history, and ethics) Crime and criminality in the British novel, 17001900 Writing, reading, and publishing cultures
Restoration and eighteenth century British literature British Romanticism
English language novel
Greek and Roman tragedy (in translation) Poetry and poetics
Literature and medicine
I design my courses to emphasize seminar style discussion, close reading, intertextual connections, and discovery of cultural contexts. I certainly offer brief lectures as needed to support student understanding, but always hope to engage in a process by which students and instructor discover and learn together.
Why did you become an English professor?
To be honest, it looked like the ideal job for me: I could read, write, and talk about books for a living. And while that has turned out to be true, there has also been so much additional rewarding activity along the way, mainly working with students and watching them discover just how exciting and fascinating language and literature can be.
Outside of being a professor, what do you do for fun and/or relaxation?
I enjoy running and biking (for physical and mental wellbeing); gardening (because we should all tend to the earth in some way); playing chess (badly, but nevertheless); and feeding my addiction to The Walking Dead TV series (really I'm interested in apocalyptic ethics).
What are your expectations of students?
Your success begins with an open mind and a willingness to engage with the unfamiliar. Beyond that, I expect you to read thoroughly and thoughtfully, to discuss our reading with sense and spirit, and to write through your ideas with care and craft. If you succeed in this, you will have joined an important conversation about the meaning and value of literature and the interpretive acts it inspires — a conversation that has been going on in one form or another for centuries, and one that I hope you will help to continue.
What's something about you that might surprise your students?
After nearly 30 years of teaching, I still get a little nervous every time I walk into the classroom.