A non-fiction education

By on March 5, 2008

When English professor Betty Lou Blumberg teaches English she does so in a way that is different from any other freshman English class, and she would not have it any other way.

While every other freshman English 102 teacher chooses to teach their students from compiled book called “Retellings,” Blumberg decides to teach using novels instead.

“When I went to college I loved having original sources: novels,” Blumberg said. “I feel so strongly, especially at Quinnipiac, that it is important for students to have original novels they can hold and touch. They can bring the book with them to the dentist or on a train and they can love holding it.”

Blumberg, 71, began her college education at Southern Connecticut State University and then traveled to Wesleyan College. She has a total of three masters in humanities. She has written theses on a number of topics including the Jewish mother in literature and American Literature of the Holocaust. Just as Blumberg created her own ideas on issues through her theses, she wants her students to do the same.

“I construct my own course using novels because I want students to make their mark on great literature,” Blumberg said. “I want them to be able to experience the novels in their own way and in turn make new knowledge about themselves and the novel.”

Where does all this passion emanate from?

Upon hearing the question Blumberg blushes and puts her hand in front of her mouth, before whispering, “Because I love it. I love teaching and I love students. If I can help someone to enjoy English, I love it. I want my students to ask questions. I want them to wonder how we know what we know in life. I want them to keep asking questions to keep attaining knowledge.”

Blumberg has structured her English class around teaching such novels as Toni Morrison’s “Sula” and Tim O’Brien’s “The Things They Carried.” Her students write journals about racism, pain, war and strength while continuing to try and answer the overriding question of how, we as humans know what we know.

Blumberg began her teaching career as an English teacher at Hill House High School in New Haven. She then moved to Albertus Magnus College where she taught English for six years. Before retiring in 2001, she taught AP Literature and was the Chair of the English department at Hamden Hall. Blumberg has spent the last seven years teaching at Quinnipiac University.

Professor Blumberg’s freshman English class is unique in the sense that it is structured differently than any other freshman English class. It is more unique, however, because of Blumberg herself and her willingness to challenge her students in a way that allows them to make new knowledge both about the literature they read and about themselves.


About Carole Ann Kinnaw