2006 Kemper Fellows

Image of William Kerwin

William Kerwin

Department of English

William Kerwin brings Shakespeare to life and inspires students to approach the study of Shakespearean classics with excitement. Although Twelfth Night and Henry IV can prove to be challenging material for many English teachers to demonstrate, Kerwin uses “contemporary comparisons” to convey how themes from texts are relevant to students today. He describes his teaching as “unsettling” in a positive manner in that with each new term, his teaching methods are adjusted to reflect higher expectations and new conditions.

Kerwin urges students to develop their own theories by TATW, or “talking about the words,” rather than merely identifying themes and subjects in the texts. Students say he is “straightforward in both his praise and critique” of writing, a trait they have come to appreciate. They also describe him as a “motivator” and as someone who has mastered teaching literature like an “artist.”

Since he began teaching at MU in 1997, Kerwin has dedicated himself to his students, mentoring graduate students and doctoral candidates and meeting with students individually to help them improve their skills in writing literary analysis. He received a bachelor’s degree in English from the College of the Holy Cross in 1980, a master’s of arts in English from Bread Loaf School of English at Middlebury College in 1987 and a doctorate in English from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1996.