Nora Mitchell - Writing & Literature, General Studies

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Nora Mitchell 
Faculty and Chair of Liberal Studies
nmitchellatburlington [dot] edu (Email)

Ph.D. in English and American Literature
Brandeis University
Nora has loved literature and writing since high school. Five years after graduating from college, she discovered that she also loved to teach.  This discovery led to graduate school, and she now combines her love of literature and writing with her love of teaching. Nora's first job included teaching undergraduates and graduate students and directing the M.F.A. in Writing Program at Goddard College. In 2003, she joined the faculty at Burlington College, first as a community faculty member in Writing and Literature and then as the Chair of Liberal Studies. She teaches a range of courses: Writing for College; Creative Writing; Short Fiction; Poetry; The Art of Reading: An Introduction to Literature; Memoir and Autobiography; Women’s Lives; and Search and Research. 

What achievements are you most proud of?

I have published two books of poetry, Your Skin Is a Country (Alice James Books, 1988) and Proofreading the Histories (Alice James Books, 1996).  My poems have also been published in journals such as Green Mountains Review, Hunger Mountain, and Ploughshares and anthologized in Onion River: Six Vermont Poets (1997) and Contemporary Poets of New England (2002). In 2002, I received a Vermont Arts Council Grant to support writing and producing an experimental theater piece, Minus Music, a performance poem for four voices that played at Burlington’s FlynnSpace, Goddard College, and St. Michael’s College in 2003. 

What do I like most about teaching at Burlington College?
In the first class I taught here in the spring of 2003, I experienced the creativity and generous collegiality of Burlington College students. They readily shared their ideas and written work and supported one another, and the class became a genuinely common undertaking. This spring, eight years later, I taught the same course (new set of books) and had the same experience. I also love the way the college’s Writing and Literature courses and the Writing and Literature major combine literature and creative writing. Literature courses are laboratory courses: In order to understand the art of poetry or fiction more fully, students experiment with the forms and practices of writing.
A person who has shaped your life.
I have been passionately interested in art, both visual and literary, since childhood. My grandmother, an accomplished painter and teacher, took me to the great New York museums and introduced me not only to Rembrandt but to Picasso, Chagall, and Rothko, as well. She was a wonderful role model. She and my grandfather, who died before I was born, made a life together in art. He was an architect and printmaker; she painted portraits and landscapes and founded the art department at the University of Alabama. When the Depression hit, they joined forces and painted public murals for the Works Progress Administration. Unfortunately, I did not inherit their painting talent, but my grandmother taught me that art, beauty, and imagination matter.