Dr. H. Collin Messer

Associate Professor of English

Contact Information:

Office: Hall of Arts and Letters - 200 I

Phone: 724-458-2041

E-mail: HCMesser@gcc.edu

Mailing Address: Grove City College, 100 Campus Drive. Box #3037, Grove City, PA 16127


"In short, the book attempts a modest restatement of the Judeo-Christian notion that man is more than an organism in an environment, more than an integrated personality, more even than a mature and creative individual, as the phrase goes.  He is a wayfarer and a pilgrim."

-- Walker Percy

upon accepting the 1962 National Book Award for The Moviegoer

Career Highlights  


    B.A., English Literature:  Emory University, 1991
    M.A., English Literature:  University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1994
    Ph.D., English Literature:  University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2000


Previous Teaching Experience:


        Visiting Assistant Professor of English, Calvin College, 2004-2006

        Assistant Professor of English, King College, 2000-2004

        Teaching Fellow, Department of English, UNC Chapel Hill, 1995-2000. 



        “Exhausted Voices:  The Inevitable Impoverishment of Faulkner’s ‘Garrulous and Facile’ Language.”  Southern Literary Journal, forthcoming.

        “The Vigor at the Core:  Thomas Wolfe’s Search for a Language of Immediacy.”  The Thomas Wolfe Review, 23.2 (Fall 1999).

        Rev. of Fetching the Old Southwest:  Humorous Writing from Longstreet to Twain. By James Justus. (Columbia: U of Missouri P, 2005) and The Enduring Legacy of Old Southwest Humor. Edited by Ed Piacentino.  (Baton Rouge:  Louisiana State UP, 2006).  Southern Literary Journal, forthcoming.

        Rev. of Howard W. Odum's Folklore Odyssey: Transformation to Tolerance Through African American Folk Studies. By Lynn Moss Sanders.  (Athens:  U of Georgia P, 2003). The Register of the Kentucky Historical Society, forthcoming.

        Rev. of Making History:  The Biographical Narratives of Robert Penn Warren.  By Jonathan S. Cullick.  (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State UP, 2000).  American Literature, 74.3 (Sept. 2002).

        “Democracy and Individualism in a Postcolonial World.”  Rev. of Prophets of Recognition:  Ideology and the Individual in Novels by Ralph Ellison, Toni Morrison, Saul Bellow, and Eudora Welty.  By Julia Eichelberger.  (Baton Rouge:  Louisiana State UP, 1999). Circles of Sorrow, Lines of Struggle:   The Novels of Toni Morrison.  By Gurleen Grewal.  (Baton Rouge:  Louisiana State UP, 1998).  Southern Literary Journal, 34.1 (Fall 2001).

        Rev. of The Southern State of Mind.  Edited by Jan Nordby Gretlund.  (Columbia:  U of South Carolina P, 1999).  North Carolina Historical Review, October 2000.


Courses Taught  

    American Literature Survey I & II.

    Civilization & Literature.  A general humanities course focusing on major works of literature of western civilization, from the Classical period to the present.

    World Literature II.  A study of the literature of the world from the Enlightenment to the present, with emphasis on the Western tradition.  Additional attention given to the literature of non-Western cultures, including works from Asia, Africa, and South America. 

    Understanding Literature.  A study of selected literary works with an emphasis on the fundamental elements of literature and methods of reading.

    Pilgrims in the Ruins:  Flannery O’Connor and Walker Percy.  An upper-level January term course exploring the prophetic voices of O’Connor and Percy in postwar America.

     Survey of African American Literature. An historical approach to the literature of African Americans with particular emphasis on the slave narrative, the Harlem Renaissance, and questions of regional identity.

    William Faulkner:  The Man and Work in Context.  An upper-level seminar combining close reading of Faulkner’s novels with substantial study of southern history and culture, particularly Faulkner’s Mississippi. The highlight of the Spring 2004 class was the Southern Cultures Tour. Over Spring Break, eighteen students traveled with me to Faulkner’s home in Oxford, MS, as well as to Memphis, T;, Clarksdale, MS; and New Orleans, LA.

    The Lost Generation:  The Rise of Literary Modernism in America and Abroad. Examination of the postwar flowering of literature as one of many cultural and intellectual trends during the 1920s, including a unit on impressionist, post-impressionist, and modern art, taught by Art History faculty. 

     Faulkner and Race. A sophomore-level course tracing the evolution of Faulkner’s understanding of and attitude toward relationships between whites, African Americans, and Native Americans. 

     Walker Percy and Flannery O’Connor:  The Search for Meaning in the Modern World. An upper-level seminar exploring Percy’s and O’Connor’s critique of postwar America.

     Southern Autobiography. A study of self-told life stories (including those of Frederick Douglass, Eudora Welty, Richard Wright, and Bobbie Ann Mason) that seeks—in  light of current discussion of the genre—to understand the strong autobiographical impulse that has long characterized many writers in the region.

    The Quest for Significance.  A year-long, interdisciplinary study for first-year students of Augustinian themes in literature and civilization from the classical through the modern period. Core texts include The Odyssey, The Aeneid, Augustine’s Confessions, Inferno, Hamlet, Shelley’s Frankenstein, Shusaku Endo’s Silence, and Walker Percy’s The Moviegoer.


Honors & Awards 

    Scholar, National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Seminar“William Faulkner and Southern History.” Vanderbilt University, Summer 2003.

    Annual Faculty Lecturer, King College, 2001.  One of two faculty members honored by the student body with an invitation to address the college community in a special convocation lecture during the 2001-2002 academic year.

    Research Grant, UNC Center for the Study of the American South, Spring 2000.

    Senior Teaching Fellow, UNC-Chapel Hill Graduate School.  1999-2000.  One of only three graduate students in UNC’s English department to receive this honor in 1999-2000, which recognizes demonstrated excellence in teaching.

    Technology Award, UNC-Chapel Hill Graduate School.  Spring 1998.  Awarded by graduate school for use of innovative information/communication technology in the classroom.

    C.S. Herschel Course Development Award, UNC-Chapel Hill English Department.  Spring 1998.  Awarded annually for innovative curriculum design in the freshman writing program.