Professor Profile: Philip Baruth

While attending Brown University Professor Philip Baruth took an American gothic class. The professor of the class was so impressed by his writing that he told Baruth that he “should quit school and become a writer.” Baruth did not follow this advice, but it nevertheless made an impact on Baruth just as he is making an impact on students today at the University of Vermont. Philip Baruth, an English professor here at UVM, is originally from Rome, NY. He received his B.A. in English and American Literature at Brown. He then went on to earn his Ph. D at The University of California, Irvine. He initially wanted to be a writer, but while earning his Ph. D he taught classes and “it just felt right to be in a classroom,” said Baruth. He began teaching at UVM twelve years ago in 1993. The courses he teaches are creative writing, fiction, 18th century British literature, and critical theory. His initial desire to be a writer did not die with teaching. Writing is part of his job at UVM. Baruth has written three novels: “The Millennium Shows,” “The Dream of the White Village,” and “The X President.” He says that while he loves being able to write as part of his job it is “sometimes impossible” to write and teach simultaneously. There is usually time to write in the beginning and the last third of the semester, whereas in the middle of the semester it is very hard to write because of the time teaching takes up. Although Professor Baruth is busy with his writing and teaching he makes sure that his students receive the attention they need from him. “Philip always has time to talk with students. He is the most accessible professor I have had here at UVM,” said a former student of Baruth’s. While teaching a Vermont literature class Baruth asked his students how many of them were writers, poets, or artists. None of the students raised their hands. Baruth believes that we live in a society that is creatively passive. When asked what he thinks is important for students to get out of their education he said, “I want students to actively contribute to the creative world and to express themselves artistically.” He expects a lot out of his students. “‘Get serious’ is my two word motto,” he said. A sophomore former student of Baruth’s said, “Philip expects more from his students than any other professor I’ve had. He’ll assign a 400 page book and expect you to have read it by the next class. But it’s worth it. It inspired me to do all the reading and not slack off.” One of the reasons Baruth says he likes teaching is because of the performance aspect of it. He says its serves as “an outlet” for the part of himself that likes to showoff and perform. Another way he cures his creative and performing needs is by writing pieces for Vermont Public Radio. He performs these pieces every Tuesday morning at 7:55. Baruth also creates his own political blog. You can check this out at www.vermontdailybriefing.com. Professor Baruth’s intellect and passion for English is an inspiration to students. A former student of Baruth’s said, “Philip is my favorite professor that I’ve had at UVM and I can’t imagine that changing. He has inspired me to write better papers than I ever thought I could. He’s the type of guy who sparks your curiosity and turns it into a blazing flame.