Emily StockardSunday, May 01, 2022
Emily Stockard, Associate Professor of English, Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts & Letters, has been sharing her passion for British literature since she began teaching at Florida Atlantic, the Davie campus, in 1991. Courses she has taught include Chaucer, Shakespeare, Renaissance Literature, Renaissance Drama, and Seventeenth- and Eighteenth-Century Literature. Dr. Stockard is the author of The Making of Barbara Pym (Palgrave Macmillian, November 2021), a biography of the mid-20th Century British novelist. "In my undergraduate days, I tended to focus on American literature; my Honors thesis was on Moby Dick. But during those years I also had a professor who turned out to be very influential on both my teaching and my thinking," she said. "He taught a survey of early British literature; I found the readings very strange and unfamiliar, but I studied them closely, because I had to, and they stuck with me. When I went on to graduate school, I decided that I would take mainly British literature classes and that was that. So now I teach the very works that it gradually dawned on me that I loved."
Barbara Pym’s life and novels deeply resonated with Dr. Stockard. "I had read and reread her for many years, loved her dry sense of humor, and had even read and reread about her life," Dr. Stockard said. "She attended Oxford in the 1930s, studying English literature, then served in the WRNS during the war, and spent her working life as an editor for an anthropological academic journal. In a way, she led a very ordinary life, but it was her approach to her life that interested me, an approach that her novels exemplify. She had the novelist’s keen observational eye and a way of seeing the humor and significance in the ordinary." Dr. Stockard said. "Many people say that when they reread her books, they always see something new or something to appreciate in a new way, and that was true for me. She struck a chord and she was always fresh. I thought I would not get tired of reading and writing about her books, and that has been the case. And it didn’t hurt that, as is very clear from her novels, she loved the same literature that I did."
Dr. Stockard said that working at the Bodleian Library in Oxford to research her Pym book is one of her favorite professional experiences. "I can only liken it to a treasure hunt, never knowing what treasure I would find in the archived boxes of material that the librarians brought to me," she said. Dr. Stockard, who has been teaching at FAU for over 30 years, says sharing special moments with students in class discussing and even laughing about the readings means the most to her. "Most recently, the semester before the pandemic, I had a Chaucer class in which this happened every class period. By then I was experienced enough to know that this was a special class and so was able to enjoy it fully, not knowing of course, that the pandemic would interrupt this sort of enjoyment. But then, over a year later, I had a live online graduate-level Shakespeare class that was also a joy to teach," she said.
As an administrator, Dr. Stockard was instrumental in designing the space in the Davie West building for the College faculty offices and classroom space. "I had the unusual experience of sitting together with the architects who designed the building. Once we moved in, faculty told me that it was the nicest building they had ever worked in. So that was certainly gratifying. I had consulted faculty along the way, so in a sense, they had helped to create their own space," said Dr. Stockard, who is currently working on another book on Pym that examines the end of Pym’s writing career and life.
During her free time, Dr. Stockard, who earned her undergraduate, graduate, and a doctorate in English at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, loves to follow her favorite teams. "Carolina basketball of course, but also professional baseball -- the Marlins -- ever since their first year in the league. I also enjoy watching detective programs and cooking shows," she said. "I do like to read, of course, and binged on Charles Dickens novels not too long ago. Pandemic permitting, I love traveling to big European cities: dining, visiting art museums, and just walking around."