English lecturer reflects on work


A songwriter, literary theorist and UVM graduate with a 4.2 out of 5 on ratemyprofessor.com, English lecturer Sean Witters shared his thoughts on music, professorship and lobster thermidor.

Vermont Cynic: When did you know you wanted to be an English professor?

Sean Witters: Probably my sophomore year in college. I realized that I was taking a lot of English classes and beginning to feel a deep connection to it.

VC: What is your favorite part of the job?

SW: Working with students.

VC: If you could be anything other than a university professor, what would you be?

SW: A novelist, but I realized I’m not a novelist. My mind doesn’t work the way theirs do. I would either want to be participating in important social change or be in a highly successful and lucrative art rock band.

VC: If you could be any musical instrument, what would you be?

SW: I would want to be an instrument that could generate sound on its own that involves chaos. I guess that’s why I like the guitar. Maybe I would be a 1960s Jazzmaster that had been played for a very long time.

VC: How has the study of theory and literature impacted the way you look at life?

SW: Literary theory particularly has changed how I think about the very phenomenon of knowledge. Seeing language in a way that is fresh and strange, as a way of recovering perception, recovering consciousness, that’s important to me. It’s changed how I think about the individual and the human subject.

VC: If you had to choose a first language other than English what would it be?

SW: I think I’d want to speak Japanese for no particular reason other than that I want to go to Japan.

VC: How has UVM changed since you were here?

SW: I miss the Dairy Bar. The Davis Center is now on top of it, but it was a student run place where they served ice cream and sandwiches and the milk came from UVM’s own farm. We should bring the Dairy Bar back.

VC: Is there a particular food everyone should try?

SW: Lobster thermidor aux crevettes served in the Provençale manner with shallots and aubergines,  garnished with truffle pâté, brandy and a fried egg and spam.

VC: What are you most proud of?

SW: Aside from my children and family, professionally I’m most proud of the fact that I won the Kroepsch Maurice Award because it comes from nominations by my students and peers.

VC: What are you currently working on?

SW: I’m writing an essay for a collection my friend in Germany is putting together on literary American writers and the marketplace.

VC: What’s better for writing: a typewriter or tablet?

SW: Microsoft word, on a computer, full screen mode.