Amy Smith

Professor of English

Amy Smith

Phone: 269.337.7036
Office: Humphrey House, room 213

BA, Allegheny College
MA, PhD, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

About Amy

In a way, coming to Kalamazoo College in the fall (2002) is like coming full circle for me. In 1989 I graduated summa cum laude from Allegheny College, a small liberal arts college on a hill. While I was there I participated in their burgeoning study abroad program, spending my junior year at the University of Sheffield in England. So when I was given the opportunity to return as an assistant professor to a college that valued teacher-student interaction, a liberal arts education, and study abroad, it felt like coming home. I teach Shakespeare, Discoveries: British Literature 1550-1750, RTW: Global Stages, Early Modern Women Writers, and Advanced Literary Studies.

It was, in fact, my own memories of vibrant undergraduate teaching that eventually drew me to graduate school. After a few years of skirting around teaching by working as a counselor and tutor, I headed back to school. I earned my MA (1997) and PhD (2000) at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign with a specialization in Shakespeare and Renaissance literature and a minor in Women’s Studies. I knew from my undergraduate work as an English major I was passionate about the Renaissance—a time of discovery, of rethinking what it meant to be human, of questioning assumptions about the role of literature in people’s lives. But it wasn’t until I went to graduate school I began to see how different people experienced this ‘rebirth and renewal’ differently. Joan Kelly once asked, “Did women have a Renaissance?” and I guess the question and others like it (Did the lower classes? Did anyone of color? Did non-Christians?) have been a driving force behind my work. My dissertation, “Performing Marriage in Early Modern England,” investigates how the performance of courtship rituals and marriage ceremonies on and off the Renaissance stage challenges class, gender, and national hierarchies. My arguments make way for the agency of individual actors in an institution often assumed to be powerfully conservative. Articles which grew from that work are forthcoming in Studies in English Literature and Comparative Drama.

My friends and family always joke I had to be a teacher because I just couldn’t bear not to be in school; after years of arguing with them, I’ve come to see the truth in their claims. In fact, once I figured out being a teacher was a lot like being a student, it felt like a natural move to me. After all, teaching and being a student both involve being willing to express your ideas, respond to challenges, and ask new questions. I strive to create a learning environment that mixes nurture and rigor in a way that encourages everyone in the classroom, myself included, to take intellectual risks.

Courses Taught:

  • ENGL 154: RTW: Global Stages
  • ENGL 264: Global Shakespeares
  • ENGL 265: Shakespeare
  • ENGL 266: Discoveries: British Literature 1550-1750
  • ENGL 324: Early Modern Women’s Literature: Shakespeare’s Sisters
  • ENGL 435: Advanced Literary Study: A Materialist Feminist Analysis of the Staging of Courtship and Marriage
  • ENGL 490: Senior Seminar: College Backwards and Forwards
  • SEMN 139: FYS: Our Shakespeares. Ourselves