Katherine Rehyansky teaches medieval literature (particularly Geoffery Chaucer), the history of the English language, and courses in grammar and linguistics. Her research focuses on Chaucer's Romance sources, and she is currently at work on a hypertext edition of the Oriel manuscript of Piers Plowman. She is editor of The Tennessee Philological Bulletin, and has been named Outstanding Teacher by The University of Tennessee National Alumni Association. She is also an elected member of UTC's Council of Scholars.
Research and/or Creative Interests
Chaucer and his French, Latin, and Italian sources; electronic editing of medieval manuscripts
Teaching Interests/Courses taught at UTC:
Medieval English literature (Chaucer,14th century) History of the English language
Early and late British surveys
At present I teach principally the language courses, using lecture, exercises, and small groups. Students learn the systems of the language by manipulating them in focused exercises, and they learn to read medieval manuscripts by encountering the real thingphotocopies of leaves from 8th to 15thcentury manuscriptsand working, at first in groups, to decipher them. Students turn in written work after every class meeting, so that I can see how each student is doing and can intervene early if help is needed. In helping students, I do whatever is necessary, on an individual basis, to improve their grades on tests and papers and make sure they understand course concepts.I'm always willing to read drafts of papers and make suggestions, and I encourage unlimited revision of writing. I don't "curve" grades; my goal is for all students who apply themselves to do very well in my courses, and I like to think I can make that happen. All my students have my email, cellphone number, and a link through UTCLearn, and they feel free to contact me any time they need to, including when they're having trouble with homework. I'm happy when they take homework seriously enough to feel an investment in getting it right. I regularly meet with students for study sessions outside of class, especially before major tests.
Why did you become an English professor?
I never had much choice. From infancy, I loved words, and my parents and collateral relatives encouraged that (there were five adults in my household, teaching me and reading to me constantly). In college, I majored in modern foreign languages (Spanish, French, German) and not English, but then my husband and I spent four years abroad during which all the available teaching jobs were in English. I found that I loved it, so when we returned to the States I applied for doctoral study at the University of Virginia, and to my astonishment was admitted. It turned out to be such an extraordinary experience that I couldn't wait to get started teaching and now, past retirement age, I can't make up my mind to quit. I guess you'd say I'm one of those people with an irresistible vocation.
I studied European medieval literature partly because I was well equipped to do itI already had the languages. But I stayed with it because I wanted to know about the remote past, to read what those old guys had written, to try to understand the way they thought. Those were my ancestors, trying to communicate with me, and I found that I really wanted to know what they had to say.
Outside of being a professor, what do you do for fun and/or relaxation?
I run, every day but not obsessively. I read a lot, probably a dozen books a month or the equivalent. I make jewelry from sterling silver and semiprecious stones; I've been a rockhound since childhood. I drive my grandsons, who live a mile away, wherever they want to go. I do some volunteer work, lately for the thrift shop run by McCallie, where one of my grandsons is a sophomore.
What are your expectations of students?
The most basic expectations are that they attend regularly. I have strict attendance policies in all my classes and that they work actively during the class period. Aside from that, I expect that students will most often submit written work on time and that they will let me know, in class or during office hours, if they need help. I also expect them to cooperate with other students; I encourage study groups and sharing of research materials, and I expect students to reply to each other's queries on UTCLearn, something I also do.
What's something about you that might surprise your students?
I grew up in Daytona Beach and I've lived all over the United States and in many places abroad, but Chattanooga is, so far, my favorite place to live. It's beautiful, the weather is lovely, the people are friendly, and there are enough things to do but it's not so crowded that you can't do them. Sometimes students tell me that as soon as they graduate they will leave home for a "better" place. I just smile.