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Susan Jaret McKinstry

Susan Jaret McKinstry

Visiting Faculty Director in London and Affiliated Scholar in Florence, Spring 2018
Carleton College, English

Susan Jaret McKinstry, Professor of English at Carleton College, delights in London as a city that mixes history and contemporary culture, provides a wonderland of free museums, stages the best theater in the world, invites walkers to wander its tangled streets and distinctive neighborhoods, and forms the center of her research, teaching, and writing. What story does the city tell? How are national identity, individual experience, and public expectation transformed into art?

At Carleton, Susan teaches interdisciplinary courses in Victorian Novel, Victorian Poetry, Jane Austen, Creative Writing, Memoir, Methods of Interpretation, and Narrative Theory. Susan’s scholarship focuses on the Pre-Raphaelites, a group of 19th century British writers and artists who transformed the material world, and London is filled with their buildings, their stained-glass windows, their furniture, their art, their books, and their stories. Her current poetry project, set in specific sites in London and Ireland, uses precise observation to explore multilayered history through material description and metaphor.

On the ACM program, Susan will draw connections between the theater we see, the complex city we navigate, and the art and architecture we study as forms of visual display. We will examine plays as “curatorial” choices in which assumptions and wishes about culture, nationality, identity, and individual life are publicly staged in a context of history, culture, representation, politics, economics, aesthetics, commerce, and technical and dramatic innovation.

Susan led Carleton College’s London Theater and Literature program three times, and Carleton’s Ireland Program once, and she looks forward to the ACM London & Florence Program’s cross-cultural, interdisciplinary framework. Her goal as a director is to engage students directly with the city through their particular experiential, disciplinary focus, teaching them to show what they see in various forms.

Susan’s teaching and research emphasize “visual literacy” as a fundamental cross-disciplinary skill. She co-directed Carleton’s Visualizing the Liberal Arts initiative from 2009-2012, was Carleton’s Associate Director of Digital Humanities in 2013-14, and was named a Fulbright Senior Scholar in Visual Studies in 2014, after which she was invited to teach a week-long Visual Studies seminar in Moscow to Russian graduate students and academics.

“All the world’s a stage,” claims Shakespeare, and London is the world’s drama capital – its biggest stage. What a superb place for us to explore theater and culture together.