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Department of EnglishFaculty Emeriti


Dr. Nancy Topping Bazin received a B.A. from Ohio Wesleyan University in 1956, an M.A. from Middlebury Graduate School of French in Paris in 1958, and a Ph.D. from Stanford University in English in 1969. She joined Old Dominion University in 1978 as Associate Professor of English and Director of Women's Studies, was promoted to Professor of English and Women's Studies in 1984, and was designated an Eminent Scholar in 1996.

A pioneer in interdisciplinary studies at Old Dominion, Dr. Bazin successfully charted the institutional and scholarly directions of the Women's Studies Program for several generations of students and faculty, serving as the Women's Studies Director from 1978-85. The successful growth of the Women's Studies Program over the past three decades is, in many ways, a tribute to Dr. Bazin's instructional commitment and compelling academic vision. Dr. Bazin also served as Chair of the Department of English from 1985-89.

In her role as a scholar, Dr. Bazin has done much to influence the fields of feminist scholarship and international women's writing. She has published two books, Virginia Woolf and the Androgynous Vision and Conversations with Nadine Gordimer, and more than 40 articles and essays on modern women writers which have contributed greatly to the contemporary understanding of and appreciation for women's writings in North America, Great Britain and Africa.

Dr. Bazin has received many honors, grants and fellowships during her academic career including the SCHEV Outstanding Faculty Award (1994), the Center for the Humanities Resident Fellowship at the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities and Public Policy (1994), and the Burgess Award for Outstanding Faculty Research and Creativity (1996).


Janet Bing received a B.A. in English from Coe College in 1959 and an M.A. in English from Stanford University in 1960. She served in the Peace Corps Afghanistan from 1962-66 and received a Ph.D. in linguistics from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst in 1979. Before coming to Old Dominion, she taught at the University of Massachusetts, the University of New Hampshire, and the University of Minnesota.

Bing joined Old Dominion University as an Assistant Professor of English linguistics in 1982 and achieved the rank of Professor in 1996. She served as Graduate Program Director for English from 1991-1994 and Graduate Program Director for Applied Linguistics from 1998-2009. She was an active member of the Women's Caucus and taught in the Women's Studies Program.

During her years at Old Dominion University, Bing was instrumental in developing an M.A. in Applied Linguistics and later became a member of the doctoral faculty for the Ph.D. in English. She won the Robert L. Stern Teaching Award and was designated a University Professor in 2000. She published three books and numerous articles on linguistics, cross-cultural communication, humor, and women's studies.


John P. Broderick, professor of English, holds the following degrees: B.A. in French and M.A. in theology from La Salle University and M.S. and Ph.D. in linguistics from Georgetown University. He joined Old Dominion in 1975, teaching undergraduate courses in English linguistics and graduate courses in general linguistics, syntax, and discourse analysis. He was named University Professor in 1996, has been an ODU nominee for the Carnegie Foundation (CASE) Professor of the Year Award, and was twice nominated for the State Council of Higher Education in Virginia (SCHEV) Outstanding Faculty Award.

Broderick is the author of two books and has published numerous articles and conference papers. In addition to serving as Director of Graduate Studies in English, he served as Associate Dean and Acting Dean of the College of Arts and Letters and as Director of International Programs. He also held several administrative posts in the Office of Academic Affairs and was co-director of Old Dominion University's 2002 Reaffirmation of Accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges.


Dr. Edward Jacobs received a B.A. in English from the University Tennessee at Knoxville in 1983 and a M.A. (1986) and Ph.D. in English (1990) from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He joined Old Dominion University as an Assistant Professor of English in 1992, receive tenure and promotion to Associate Professor in 1999, and was promoted to Full Professor in 2010.

Dr. Jacobs has directed four M.A. Theses and four Ph.D. Dissertations and been a member on over twenty Thesis and Dissertation committees. He also served as member on six Ph.D. Dissertation committees, four M.F.A. Thesis committees, and over 130 M.A. in English Oral Comprehensive Examinations. Among his administrative service, he served as Graduate Program Director for the M.A. in English from 2000 to 2003 and as Acting Program Director for both the M.A. and Ph.D. in English during 2006, the year in which the Ph.D. in English was launched. Thereafter, he served on the Ph.D. in English Advisory Committee from 2007 to 2017. He also served as Coordinator of the Literature Program in the Department of English from 2006 until 2020. Beyond the Department of English, his major administrative service has been twenty-one years on Faculty Senate (1998-2019), where, among other duties, he was Chair of Committee B (Undergraduate Policies and Procedures) from 2006-2012 and served twice on the Faculty Senate Executive Committee (2010-2014 and 2018-2019). Outside Old Dominion, Dr. Jacobs served on the Board of Directors for Todd Rosenlieb Dance www.trdance.org (2006-2014) and currently serves on the Advisory Board of COVE (The Collective Online Virtual Educator) https://editions.covecollective.org.

Dr. Jacobs's research focuses on British Literature 1640-1840 (especially the novel), eighteenth and nineteenth century newspapers, and the critical editing of works of literature. He has published one single authored book, and he has been the lead author of two critically edited, fully annotated editions of nineteenth century works of fiction, plus twenty-two peer reviewed articles. He has presented twenty-nine papers at national and international scholarly conferences. He was twice (2009-2010 and 2018-2019) a recipient of the Department of English's endowed Robin L. Hixon Research Fellowship.


Joyce Neff received a B.A. in English (with Honors) from McDaniel College in 1966, an M.A. in English from the University of Maryland, College Park, in 1978, and a Ph.D. from the Program in Writing at the University of Pennsylvania in 1991.

She joined Old Dominion University as an Assistant Professor of English in 1993, and was promoted to the rank of Professor in 2007. She has served the English Department as Director of Composition, Associate Chair, Acting Chair, and Graduate Program Director for the Ph.D. Program in English. Neff has enriched the educations of countless ODU students over the years—both on campus and from a distance. She was selected as a University Professor in 2009, won the University Teaching with Technology Award in 2008, and received the Outstanding Service Award from the College of Arts and Letters in 2005. Her contributions to distance education include being one of the first faculty to teach via TELETECHNET, publishing numerous articles and a book on distance learning, and serving as the designated spokesperson on distance education for the National Council of Teachers of English. She has mentored undergraduate and graduate students and been a leader in the University's Improving Disciplinary Writing Quality Enhancement Plan.

On a national level, Neff frequently presents workshops on Writing in the Disciplines, is a consultant in professional writing for the U.S. Department of Defense, and was elected to the Executive Committee of the Conference on College Composition and Communications. She currently serves as the Chair of the National Consortium of Doctoral Programs in Rhetoric and Composition.


Michael Pearson, professor of English, began teaching creative writing and American literature at Old Dominion University in 1988. During his thirty-two years at ODU, he acted as Director of the MFA Program in Creative Writing for a decade, founding the Writers in Community and the Writer in Residency programs. He has been a leader in experiential learning -- teaching three times on Semester at Sea for the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Virginia and teaching nine Study Abroad courses for ODU. He developed an Irish literature course and taught four spring/summer terms in that country.

Among the many awards Pearson has received at ODU are the Burgess Award for creativity and the Stern Award for excellence in teaching. He has been a finalist for the SCHEV Outstanding Faculty Award a number of times, and he was given the designation of University Professor in recognition of his exceptional teaching during his career.

Pearson has published essays and stories in The Boston Globe, The Baltimore Sun, The Atlanta Journal and Constitution, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Southern Literary Journal, Shenandoah Review, Chautauqua, The Morning News, Creative Nonfiction, The New York Journal of Books, and many others. He is the author of seven books - among them Imagined Places: Journeys into Literary America (1991 -- listed as a notable book by The New York Times Book Review), Dreaming of Columbus: A Boyhood in the Bronx (1999), Innocents Abroad Too (2008 -- a narrative about two journeys around the world by ship), and, most recently, Reading Life -- On Books, Memory, and Travel (2015). Pearson has also written Shohola Falls (2003 -- a coming-of-age novel that imagines the hidden life of Mark Twain and the journal of Thomas Blankenship, the real-life Huck Finn). Willie Morris, the former editor of Harper's, said, "Michael Pearson is one of our nation's finest memoirists."


Janet Peery received a B.A. in speech pathology and audiology and an M.F.A. in fiction writing from Wichita State University. She joined Old Dominion University as a visiting assistant professor in English in 1993 and as an assistant professor in 1994. Tenured in 2001, she was awarded the honorific University Professor in 2005 and achieved the rank of professor in 2008.

Institutional recognition of Peery's accomplishments in teaching, research, and service include the Burgess Award from the College of Arts and Letters and the SCHEV Outstanding Faculty Award. She is the author of four award-winning works of fiction, Alligator Dance, The River Beyond the World, What the Thunder Said, and The Exact Nature of Our Wrongs. Outside honors and awards include fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the Mrs. Giles Whiting Writers Award, the Rosenthal Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Emyl Sexton Jenkins Prize from the Library of Virginia (2008 and 2018), the Willa Award from Women Writing the West, nomination for the International IMPAC/Dublin Literary Award, the Jeanne Charpiot Goodheart Prize from Washington and Lee University, the Seaton Award, inclusion in Best American Short Stories and numerous citations in the series' 100 Distinguished Stories, several Pushcart Prizes, and numerous prizes and honors from the over two dozen literary quarterlies in which her short stories appear. Her novel The River Beyond the World was a Finalist for the National Book Award in 1996.

Peery has directed 40-plus master's theses and provided mentoring for graduate students in fiction. She has directed Old Dominion University's renowned Literary Festival four times, and has served as featured reader for this and other festivals across the country. She has given presentations and done master classes at preeminent writers' conferences and programs, including Sewanee Writers Conference, Warren Wilson MFA for Writers, Image West at Ghost Ranch, and Antioch-LA's program and has given over 100 invited talks or readings at universities across the country, from Colgate to Seattle Pacific. She was a participant in the National Book Foundation's American Voices Project, traveling to reservations and tribal colleges throughout the west in order to do dedicated residencies, Rocky Boy's Chippewa-Cree reservation in Montana being the most recent.


Philip Raisor, professor of English, received a B.A. and M.A. from Louisiana State University and a Ph.D. from Kent State. He joined the Old Dominion University faculty in 1969 and served as faculty representative to the Board of Visitors, chair of the Faculty Caucus (now Faculty Senate), president of the ODU chapter of Phi Kappa Phi, departmental graduate director, Computer Lab director, and chair of the English Department. Raisor published two books, scholarly and critical articles, informal essays, fiction and nonfiction, poetry, memoir, interviews, reviews, and a video production, and his work has been included in five national anthologies. He served as president of the New Virginia Review, Inc., a state-wide literary and visual arts organization, and was a member of the Board of Directors of the Associated Writers and Writing Programs, the national organization of creative writing programs. Raisor founded the ODU Literary Festival, now in its thirtieth year.


Dr. Carolyn H. Rhodes received an A.B. from the University of Alabama in 1945, an M.A. in Psychology from Columbia University in 1947, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in English in 1959 and 1965 respectively from the University of Kentucky.

She joined the faculty at Old Dominion University in 1965. During his twenty-five years at Old Dominion University, Dr. Rhodes was renowned for her teaching and contributions to American Literature, Utopian studies, Women's studies, and Asian studies. Her most ardent efforts have been devoted to curriculum development, and she taught the first courses offered here in science fiction, introductory women's studies (team taught), Utopian literature and life-narratives, including women's autobiographies. She also designed the English Department's honors course, "Enjoying Literature," and participated in the development of a course called "Literature by Minorities."

Her publications include one reference book and numerous articles. The book, First Person Female American (Whitson, 1980), assembles annotations on over 300 life narratives by contemporary women writers. Among her articles are a number about such women authors such as Tillie Olsen and Gail Godwin. Dr. Rhodes's administrative assignments have included coordinating Women's Studies in its founding year (1977-78), funded jointly by a grant from the National Endowment for Humanities and Old Dominion University. It was the first Women=s Studies program in the Commonwealth.

She has also taken part in several other successful funding proposals and faculty development programs. Dr. Rhodes has been honored by various groups including recognition in 1989 by the Women-in Transition Program of the YWCA of South Hampton Roads and by the University Women's Caucus.


A 1971 graduate of Yale University, Richards earned a bachelor's degree in English, Richards received a doctorate in American literature, drama from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1982.

Richards was a member of the Old Dominion faculty for over two decades. Upon Richard's passing, Dana Heller, professor and chair of the English department, called Richards "a cherished teacher and mentor, and a noble, compassionate man," Charles Wilson, acting dean of the College of Arts and Letters, called Richards a "mentor, gentleman and friend," saying that he will be greatly missed.

Richards was known as a beloved mentor to both students and faculty at the university. A gentle, noble and compassionate man, he treated the people and the world around him with deep care and respect; he valued justice and deplored pettiness. He loved spending time outdoors gardening and hiking. He strove to live a simple life, devoting his time to what was most important to him-his family, his teaching, and his writing.

Richards served two terms as chair of the English department, and taught early and 19th-century American literature and American drama.

His many published books and articles contributed substantially to the scholarship in his field. He was the author of "Drama, Theatre, and Identity in the American New Republic" (Cambridge University Press, 2005), "Mercy Otis Warren" (Twayne/Simon and Schuster, 1995) and "Theater Enough: American Culture and the Metaphor of the World Stage, 1607-1789" (Duke University Press, 1991).

Richards also was editor of the following books: "Mimic LIfe; or, Before and Behind the Curtain" by Anna Cora Mowatt (Copley, 2001), "Eugene O'Neill: Early Plays" (Penguin, 2001) and "Early American Drama" (Penguin, 1997). In addition, he published numerous articles on early American literature.


Charles E. Ruhl received a Ph.D. in Linguistics in 1972 from the University of North Carolina,

Chapel Hill, an M.A. in English in 1965 from Purdue University and a B.A. in Philosophy in 1960 from Gettysburg College. Dr. Ruhl came to Old Dominion in 1974 as an Assistant Professor of English with a speciality in linguistics. Over the years, and through promotions to associate and full professor, Dr. Ruhl became famous for his unusual lecture style, one that caught students off guard, posed word difficulties, had them think about phrases that seemed, but were not really, drawn from random thoughts. Thousands of studentS have been enlightened on the peculiarities and wonders of language, thanks to Dr. Ruhl's original and conscientious style of teaching.

As a researcher, Dr. Ruhl has become a national figure. His basic argument has been that multiple meanings of a single word, contrary to the usual theory, polysemy, in fact are all connected to a single, originating meaning. He has argued this theory, monosemy, in dozens of papers and articles and most notably his book, On Monosemy.

Dr. Ruhl's service to the department, college and University has been exemplary. He has been on every University committee imaginable and served many terms in the Faculty Senate. He has also been a department chair and advisor to chairs since.


Joanne Scheibman received a B.A. in linguistics and Spanish, an M.A. in linguistics, and a Ph.D. in linguistics (with distinction) from the University of New Mexico. She joined Old Dominion as an assistant professor of English in 2000, achieved the rank of associate professor in 2006 and was designated a University Professor in 2008.

Scheibman was the recipient of the College of Arts & Letters Robert L. Stern Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2004. As one of four linguists in the Department of English, she has taught a range of courses for English and Education majors, the M.A. program in Applied Linguistics, and the English Ph.D. She has been a member of 121 M.A. Applied Linguistics oral examination committees and has also served on exam committees for students in the department's M.A. and Ph.D. programs. She has chaired or been a member of 11 thesis and dissertation committees for M.A. and M.F.A. students in English and for Ph.D. students in the College of Education and in linguistic programs at other universities. Her service as graduate program director of the M.A. in applied linguistics (2007, 2009-2013) was highlighted by the mentoring of several cohorts of Fulbright students from countries, such as Namibia, Gaza, Afghanistan, Senegal, and Indonesia.

Scheibman's research concerns the role of language use in shaping meaning and grammatical structure. Her publication record includes a single-authored book, 16 referred articles and book chapters, and her research is consistently cited in top journals in linguistics, cognitive science, and education. She has presented her work at a variety of national and international conferences and has been an invited speaker at symposia at Rice University, Stanford University, Lund University in Sweden, and the Universidade de Vigo in Spain.


Tim Seibles received a B.A. in English and secondary-level teaching certification in English and psychology from Southern Methodist University and an M.F.A. in poetry writing from Vermont College of Norwich University. He joined Old Dominion University's English and creative writing faculty as an assistant professor in 1995 and achieved the rank of professor in 2015.

Seibles was presented the Robert L. Stern Award "in recognition of excellence in teaching" in 2000. He is the author of six collections of poetry, Body Moves, Hurdy-Gurdy, Hammerlock, Buffalo Head Solos, Fast Animal, and One Turn Around the Sun. He also published two chapbooks, Kerosene and Ten Miles an Hour. Outside honors include fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center, and an NAACP Image Award for Faculty Member of the Year. Seibles was Poet-in-Residence at Bucknell University in 2010 and received an Honorary Doctorate for Literary Accomplishment from Misericordia University. He has served as judge for the Crab Orchard Review's First Book Award, the Illinois Arts Council Awards, the Autumn House Press First Book Award, and the New Rivers Press Book Award. His works were included in two Best American Poetry anthologies (2010, 2013). His book, Hammerlock, was a finalist for the Library of Virginia book award. His collection, Fast Animal, a finalist for the National Book Award in 2012, won The Pen Oakland Award for Poetry in 2013 as well as The Theodore Roethke Memorial Poetry Prize in 2014. In 2015 he chaired the committee that judged the National Book Award in Poetry.

Seibles has directed many master's theses and provided mentoring for graduate students in poetry. He has directed Old Dominion University's nationally renowned literary festival seven times and has been a featured poet at numerous festivals across the U.S. as well as in Canada, Mexico, and Jamaica. Seibles has been a workshop leader for Cave Canem, the African American Poets Retreat, and visiting faculty for two different low-residential MFA programs, Antioch University in Marina del Rey, California, and the University of Southern Maine's Stone Coast Writing Program. He has done hundreds of readings and related engagements including two different eight-school tours, The Connecticut Poetry Circuit and The Florida Literary Arts Coalition Tour.


Janis Krebs Smith received her BA in English from Mary Baldwin College [now Mary Baldwin University] and her MA in English from Wake Forest University. She joined the Old Dominion faculty as an instructor in 1972 on a three-year appointment. Smith returned to Old Dominion in 1980 and for 25 years worked in Career Development Services. She was named Administrator of the Year in 1993.

In 2005, Smith returned to the Department of English, where she served as Lecturer and Chief Departmental Advisor. During that time, she taught composition, general education literature, and an introductory class for majors. Smith earned numerous Shining Star awards from students beginning in 2010. In 2010 she was also named Most Inspiring Faculty by a graduating senior. She was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 2017 and also in that year was designated a University Distinguished Teacher.

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