December 13, 2017

Tarleton professor shares “Love for Language, Literature” with students

Rachel Tuggle
TheFlashToday.com

STEPHENVILLE (December 3, 2017) – This is the sixth installment in our fall Tarleton State University Faculty Feature series. Twice a month The Flash Today will introduce a different faculty or staff member to the community. 

Tarleton English professor Dr. Mallory Young has been a pillar of the English department since 1983. As an English professor, Young divides her time between teaching, mentoring and advising students and research.

“From the very beginning, I loved language, loved literature,” Young said. “I just loved all of that stuff. I was always the one in the class people would turn to for literary knowledge.”

But, Young did not start out her career planning to teach English. Since she was a “born English major,” Young decided to do the unexpected and major in French at the University of Texas at San Antonio.

“The other reason [I chose French] is it was part of my background,” Young said. “My grandmother and my mother were French-speaking. So I was really interested in it. I started taking French in the seventh grade and took it all the way through junior high and high school.”

Young met her husband and fellow Tarleton professor, Dr. Craig Clifford, while at UT. The two went on to attend the State University of New York at Buffalo and earn their PhDs. Young earned hers in comparative literature.

“I wanted to combine a lot of different interests,” Young said. “I’ve always been a generalist. I don’t like specializing, and comparative literature gave me the broadest field for that. So I actually did English literature, French, ancient Greek and Roman classics and philosophy also.”

After earning her PhD, Young went on to teach English, which she did not originally plan on doing.

“That is partly because I was thinking in terms of high school teaching but also because it was expected,” Young said. “Teaching was so obvious for a woman. But, teaching with a PhD was not so obvious.”

Young first worked at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland where she taught English courses.

“I never expected to [teach at the naval academy],” Young said. “I had no military connections. But, it turned out the job fit me and my qualifications perfectly. The main faculty at the naval academy, unlike other military academies, are civilians, which I did not know before I worked there.”

After teaching at the US Naval Academy for four years, Young and Clifford began looking for jobs in Texas.

“Unfortunately, my spouse did not have a teaching job [at the naval academy],” Young said. “It was just difficult to find positions for two professors. The naval academy was not open to hiring spouses; that was not accepted. Neither there nor at other universities. Tarleton, it turned out, was more open than that.”

Due to a connection through Clifford, Young applied at Tarleton and began as an English professor in 1883. Clifford eventually was hired there as well.

“A lot of people thought we wouldn’t stay,” Young said. “They just assumed we were hopping around and passing through. But, that wasn’t our idea. Our idea was if we could find positions for both of us, then we would stay.”

Young spent her first semester teaching English courses similar to those she teaches now, such as British literature, sophomore literature, special topics and master’s courses. But, at the beginning of her second semester, Young was recruited by the department head to begin teaching French as well.

“I didn’t have a choice,” Young said. “So I taught French. For 25 years or so I taught French as well as English. I was the only French teacher, so I taught all the French [courses] in a two-year sequence.”

During her career, Young also became the second director of the Presidential Honors Program from 1988 to 1992. Young began the honors core courses that honors students take today.

“Before then, it was just the presidential honors programs with some honors seminars for those students,” Young said. “I started more honors classes. I’m proud of that. I taught a freshman honors composition class. Then, we expanded that and grew the honors degree program.”

While she also directed the PHP, Young also became the assistant to the president of the university, Dr. Dennis McCabe. Young moved from those positions to spend some time as the head of the English department.

“I like teaching here,” Young said. “There is something special about teaching at a school like Tarleton where so many students are first-generation college students or older students returning for a college education, students who aren’t jaded. To me, that is the real excitement of teaching at Tarleton — seeing that light go on in someone’s eyes and seeing them see something new in a different way. I think everyone who teaches here has an opportunity to do that.”

Young has also researched women’s literature and women’s issues. One senior seminar she teaches covers the subject of bad girls throughout literature and popular culture. She co-edited two books on these subjects with Dr. Suzanne Ferriss: Chick Lit: The New Woman’s Fiction and Chick Flicks: Contemporary Women in the Movies.

“It was just an interest that developed over time,” Young said. “It turned out to be really fun to teach and fun to write about.”


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