Faculty at the School of Arts and Humanities

Theresa Towner


Ashbel Smith Professor of Literary Studies

Areas of Specialization:  Faulkner, modern American literature, African American literature, Oz, Narnia, Harry Potter

Office:  JO 5.620
Mail Station:  JO 45
Email:  [email protected]
Phone:  972-883-2031

I love reading and writing and working with students. I'm a specialist in the work of William Faulkner, and I spend as much time as possible in worlds imagined by other people—Faulkner, JK Rowling, Homer—in as many different forms as I can find—film, biography, painting, musical theater.

One of my goals in my research is to figure out how writers accomplish what they do. How does Rowling make us believe that Quidditch is real? How does Orson Welles make us feel both pity for and fear of Charles Foster Kane? I believe that the best art is highly specific and not "universal," that the great artists bring us to a time and place that we inhabit alongside the characters, as if for the first time, no matter how often we've read the work in question.

I tell students that in life there are really only two questions: "What is?" and "What if?" You've got to know the world and how it works, but you've also got to be able to see how to change it, and in both efforts your imagination is the best tool you have.

I've been at UTD for my career, from lecturer to full professor, and I've enjoyed watching the University grow in size and in international stature.


PhD, University of Virginia
MA, University of Exeter, England
BA, University of Kansas

Curriculum Vitae:  Theresa Towner's CV