Rutgers English would like to congratulate Professor John McClure on receiving the 2006 Warren I. Susman Award for Excellence in Teaching, which is given for outstanding work in promoting the intellectual development of students. Professor McClure has been an innovator throughout his twenty-nine years as a professor, constantly expanding the definition of what it means to study literature at Rutgers.
Students often recall Professor McClure’s courses as life-changing experiences, an in-depth, semester-long exploration of a particular topic that led to new intellectual discoveries. In comments, students praise not only the engaging and accessible way he teaches, but also the fascinating material he chooses to present. Professor McClure was the first to bring colonial and post-colonial literary studies to Rutgers by giving courses on “Anglophone literature” (books written in English in countries where English is not the native language). Literary studies overall has eventually caught up with Professor McClure’s interests, and Anglophone literature has become one of the most important new fields within English studies worldwide. Many students get their first introduction to global literature under his guidance, and he has opened students’ eyes to the writing of important African, Indian, and Caribbean authors.
Professor McClure strives to make English interdisciplinary as well as multicultural. His current book in progress, The Postsecular Imagination: Religion and Politics in Contemporary American Fiction, suggests another of his interests in the intersection of religion and literature in today’s society. Students from his undergraduate course “The Bible as Literature” praise Professor McClure’s sensitivity in dealing with religious topics even while he focuses classroom discussions on complex and contentious issues. His graduate seminar “Postmodern / Postsecular” studies the idea of spirituality from several different cultural perspectives. This popular course is over-enrolled almost every semester.
What many of his students might not know is Professor McClure’s behind-the-scenes work for Rutgers English and for the University on the whole. Every English major has to take Principles of Literary Study 220, an introduction to the techniques of reading fiction. Approximately 400 students a year take the course, which includes both large lectures and small discussion sections.
Professor McClure helped develop the course in its current format, and as the course coordinator helped orient other professors and graduate students who have taught it over the years. Many of his former graduate students, now professors at other schools, say that his guidance for this course helped shape their approach as English teachers.
Professor McClure has even changed how some students think about English beyond the United States. He founded and directed the Rutgers Summer Study and Service Program in Limón, Costa Rica, along with Dr. Susan Crane. In Limón, Rutgers students work in the classroom to help local children learn to speak English, and in their spare time have the opportunity to study Central American and Afro-Caribbean culture at its source. Rutgers Study Abroad now offers the program every summer as a way for students not just to study globalization, but actively participate in its positive effects.
We here at Rutgers English congratulate Professor McClure on his Warren I. Susman Award for Excellence in Teaching, and commend his history of dedication and innovation as a teacher. He is invaluable as a professor who always finds successful ways to challenge students and himself, and we look forward to the new horizons he will open in the future.
The Costa Rica Summer Program
Our Award-Winning Faculty