John Parker, English prof., receives early tenure

By Anna Waugh

English Professor John Parker has made a new home at Macalester College, vaulting his way into a tenured position in a single year. Though voted one of the ‘Favorite Professors of the Classes of 2003, 2005, and 2006’ at Harvard University, he left the coast for our Twin Cities with “a great music scene [and] shockingly good seafood.””John Parker is a terrifically thoughtful teacher. He cares deeply about his students and about their experience [in] the classroom; he puts a great deal of energy and care into his teaching,” said English department chair Daylanne English.

Parker’s interest is pre-modern drama and poetry: medieval and renaissance.

“He made Shakespeare a lot more lively than a lot of professors would have,” said English Major Nick Seymour ’08, who took Parker’s course comparing Shakespeare’s early history plays and his tragedies.

English agreed.

“He has a talent for making what might seem to be distant, both chronologically and culturally, material accessible and fascinating,” she said.

Though most professors at Macalester must teach for seven years before receiving tenure, English explained that it is not uncommon for professors “who [have] taught for a number of years on the tenure track at another strong institution to be considered for tenure early.”

“John Parker had for five years been an assistant professor at Harvard University, by all accounts a ‘strong institution,’ I would say,” English said.

Earlier this month, Parker won the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Post-Doctoral Rome Prize which will allow him to study in Rome next year, where he will work on his second book.

“[The book] deals with the Christianization of the Roman playwright Seneca in late antiquity and the revival of his drama in the English Renaissance,” Parker said.

His first book, “The Aesthetics of Antichrist” was published last year by the Cornell University Press.

About Macalester, Parker said that the transition has been relatively seamless.

“The students are great. My class discussions so far have been a real pleasure,” he said.

What does he have up his sleeve before his trip to the Eternal City next year?

“I’ve got a couple of articles I’ve been working on forever; I’d really like to finish.