4 New Faculty 4 Questions

A new academic year brings new students and faculty to campus. And just as new students breathe new life into campus culture, new faculty add their own marks to the Knox community. September 2013 brought four new faculty members to Knox, each with their own research interests, teaching styles, and personalities. Knox Magazine asked each professor a series of questions; their answers provide a bit of insight into what their tenure at Knox may bring.

By Megan Scott '96 Photos by Peter Bailey

Anne Steinberg

Modern Languages & Literatures — French

How did you first get interested in your academic field?

When I was in middle school, high school, and then at the university, my literature professors always reminded us that each text is anchored in a very specific, historical context. If you are not familiar with the century or era in which a pamphlet, a speech, a poem, a novel, etc. has been written, you will not understand the importance or impact such literature had at the time. The more I thought about it, the more I became interested in the link between history and literature, which constantly brought me back to the French Revolution and the 18th century as a whole. The political turmoil, the social upheavals and, in parallel, the development of “reason” got me thinking about the kinds of literary genres that were emerging or being used to convey any form of criticism.

Describe one of your favorite teaching moments?

At the risk of sounding cliché, every day has a little bit of my favorite teaching moments. When you know that your students feel comfortable, are engaged, that they are laughing with you, they participate, ask questions…That’s what makes my day, every day and this is what I love about teaching. Each day is different.

What is one of your favorite books and why?

My all-time favorite is the epistolary novel Les Liaisons Dangereuses by Choderlos de Laclos (1781). It is diabolically good! It is a great depiction of the falling aristocracy at the end of the Old Regime. The Marquise de Merteuil and The Vicomte de Valmont are trying to manipulate others and orchestrate their fall but their plans backfire. This novel is extremely well-written, ahead of its time, and a page-turner.

Tell us one unexpected thing about yourself?

I originally intended to be an English professor in France, and it turns out that I am a French professor in an English-speaking country!

Anne received her bachelor’s degree in English literature and translation from Université Sorbonne Nouvelle-Paris 3 in 2005, her master’s degree in French literature from the University of Oregon in 2008, and her Ph. D. in Romance languages and literatures from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2013.

Andy Hertel


How did you first get interested in your academic field?

I took Introduction to Psychology at Wartburg College during my senior year of high school at Waverly-Shell Rock High School (Waverly, IA). I think I took the class because I was innately curious about psychology. Whatever the case, by taking the class my curiosity was further stimulated such that I majored in psychology at St. Olaf College, where I had the fortune of having professors who I liked as people and who were great academic role models.

Why did you choose to teach at a liberal arts college?

When I think of undergraduate education, I think of a small liberal arts college. I was drawn to Knox specifically because of its exemplary focus on academics, its diversity, its resilience, its autonomy-focused environment, its few concerns over status hierarchies, and the psychology department’s excellent reputation for both teaching and conducting research.

Tell us one unexpected thing about yourself?

I haven’t had a glass of milk in 10 years. I do not have a single cavity.

What is one thing that you’ve discovered about Knox that surprised you

It is a REALLY close knit community! I expected a strong community, but not as close knit of a community as Knox is. I think this is a real advantage of the school.

Andy received his bachelor’s degree in 1999 from St. Olaf College and his Ph.D. in 2009 from the University of Minnesota, both in psychology.

Andrea Ferrigno


How did you first get interested in your academic field?

I have been innately interested in art for as long as I can remember. My decision to pursue it academically came early on, having attended the Kansas City Art Institute for my undergrad years. There, the desire to be engaged professionally as an academic in the arts was instilled. I then went on to the University of Iowa for my graduate studies in painting. From the beginning of my time there I was actively involved in the printmaking department as well. I am interested and engaged in the dialogue between these disciplines, as well as their varied histories, and am excited to be at such a busy intersection of artistic inquiry, from painting, photography and book arts, as well as sculpture. With rise of 3D printing and new technologies, print media is a quickly expanding terrain.

Describe one of your favorite teaching moments?

I love when students challenge me back through a good debate, and we both end up learning and thinking about things in new ways. This exchange and evolution is at the heart of teaching for me.

Do you have a first day of school ritual?

On the first day of class, I try to hit the ground running as much as possible, giving the students an idea of what they are in for the rest of the term, as well as getting to know each other and exchanging in group dialogue.

If you weren’t a professor what would you be?

I would still be working at trying to become one. I have always wanted to teach and am happy to be here!

Andrea received her bachelor’s of fine arts in printmaking from the Kansas City Art Institute in 2004, her master’s in painting/drawing from the University of Iowa in 2011, followed by her master’s of fine arts in painting/drawing/printmaking in 2013.

James Dyer


How did you first get interested in your academic field?

News always seemed to be large part of my life. My parents were both avid newspaper and magazine readers, and they listened to radio news each morning while we all ate breakfast. I wrote for the student newspaper in grade school, high school, and college and started my own investigative reporting/literary magazine (modeled after the The New Yorker but with exponentially less financial success) in graduate school.

Describe one of your favorite teaching moments?

To get my beginning journalism students in a prior job out of their comfort zone, I took them down to a street corner and sent half the class on a west-bound city bus and half of them on an east-bound city bus and told them to break up in groups of two, get off somewhere in the city, and come back with a great story. They were petrified and stared at me with this “Are you really going to make us do this?” look on their faces. It was priceless. They all returned with amazing stories about people they had never known existed.

What is one of your favorite books and why?

I was nine years old when I read my first novel, Jack London’s The Call of the Wild, and it changed my life. When I finished it, I learned two very important things about myself: I loved reading, and I was going be a world traveler.

What is one thing that you’ve discovered about Knox that surprised you?

The incredible honesty of the students. They don’t play games. If they fail to do their homework, they’re upfront about it and adamant about accepting any and all penalties.

James received his bachelor’s degree in Spanish from the University of Minnesota in 1989, his master’s in journalism from the University of Iowa in 2002, followed by a master’s in Spanish in 2006. He is expected to complete his Ph.D. in Spanish from Iowa this year.