Baylor expands with new hire

Dr. Alan Jacobs
Dr. Alan Jacobs

By Reubin Turner

Staff Writer

Dr. Alan Jacobs, currently the Clyde S. Kilby chair professor of English at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Ill., has accepted an offer to become a new distinguished professor of literature at Baylor. Beginning next fall, Jacobs will lecture for the Honors Program, a program located under the umbrella of the Honors College designed to supplement the university’s undergraduate honors degree.

A contributing editor to the New Atlantis, a journal of technology and society, Jacobs has written 11 books and more than 100 scholarly articles on a variety of literary and theological topics which include original sin and the life and works of C.S. Lewis. Jacobs said while at Baylor, he hopes to broaden students’ perspectives in areas that range from the technologies of reading to the works of W.H. Auden.

Jacobs obtained a Bachelor of Arts in history and english from the University of Alabama in 1980 and continued his studies at the University of Virginia, obtaining a doctorate in 1987. While at the University of Virginia, Jacobs studied topics that dealt with how literature interacts with Christian theology, and the history and the future of reading.

It was ultimately his passion for the classics, coupled with his fervent devotion to the faith that led him to continue his studies in the fields of English and Christianity, he said. Dr. Christina Bieber Lake, associate professor of English at Wheaton College and a close colleague of Jacobs, said Jacobs is a highly respected scholar in the field of digital humanities and has his finger on some of the most important topics in literary academe.

“The ability of Jacobs to integrate research in both English and theology makes him an accomplished scholar and a brilliant lecturer in the classroom”, Lake said, adding many of Wheaton’s faculty and students alike are devastated by his decision to leave.

Lake also said Jacobs’ works on Christian hermeneutics are a testament to his resilience in the fields of humanities and theology. Jacobs said his next book will likely focus on Christian humanism in wartime, with an emphasis on C.S. Lewis, Auden and French philosopher Jacques Maritain. Dr. Thomas Hibbs, dean of the Baylor Honors College, said the Honors College is delighted to bring Jacobs on board and he is a wonderful addition to both the university’s Honors Program and the university as a whole.

“He is also a public intellectual whose writings in popular journals, magazines, and blogs reach a wide audience beyond the academy”, Hibbs said, adding that many of Jacobs’ works have been published in distinguished university presses such as Princeton and Oxford. Jacobs said although he is sad he’ll be leaving friends and students behind at Wheaton, he appreciates the intellectual ambtions and the warm-heartedness of the Honors College at Baylor. He added that while at Baylor, he’ll have more flexibility to choose topics he’d like to teach and research than he has now.

“It is my hope that I will find students and colleagues alike with similar interests”, adding that he is eager to work with a larger number of scholars who research in a variety of areas.