Dr. Scott Levin: Making Poetry of Pearl Jam
Scott Levin was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio and spent most of his childhood in the Midwest. He decided to head east for college, attending Boston University. At first he was unsure what to study, tinkering with Economics and Finance mainly because he was always very good at Math. However, he had always been an avid reader and by his sophomore year, he somehow fell under the spell of 19th Century Russian novelists, mainly Dostoevsky, whom he could not put down. “Sadly, my GPA, though very good, did not meet its potential because I often put off my studies for more and more Dostoevsky,” Scott said. “I had an amazing advisor who convinced me to focus on English as my major and everything went uphill from there. He knew me well. My senior year of college, I decided to study abroad at Oxford University in England, where I fell under the spell of poetry for the first time. Up until that point, I had always despised poetry mainly because of the difficulty that comes with the task of interpreting the language. In Oxford, I came to understand the importance of the ambiguous language: it was rhetorical in nature, meaning that the power was in the hands of the reader. That I liked. And I was hooked.”
Upon graduation, Scott took a year off before heading home to Columbus to attend Ohio State for his Masters degree, where he focused on the poetry of the British Romantics. It was at Ohio State that he also first entered the college classroom as an instructor and fell in love with leading academic discussions, knowing then that the college environment was where he was going to pursue his professional life. He applied to a number of graduate schools for his PhD, selecting Fordham University in the end. “I knew that there could be no better place than New York City to pursue a PhD. And I was right,” Scott noted. The resources of New York and its surrounding universities led to great experiences for Scott. During his time at Fordham, he presented at various academic conferences across the country and even in France, where he ended up publishing his first academic article on the poetry of William Wordsworth.
After finishing his doctorate, Scott accepted a position at Louisiana Tech. He said, “This was a very exciting moment in my life as I had never lived in the south. My time at Tech has been eye opening and refreshing as I continue to nurture my scholastic proclivities both in and out of the classroom. What excites me more than anything is teaching non-liberal arts students mainly because I feel it is my job to persuade them that they are not here to learn a trade but to gain an education, and that comes with a broad array of disciplines. I try to take the mystical element out of the humanities to instead focus on the importance of critical thinking as a tool that is necessary in any and all professional fields. I am not here to make my students ‘cultured’ or ‘well-rounded’ but sound thinkers.”
Scott’s most recent publication is an article on the British peasant poet, John Clare, which has been accepted by “Essays in Romanticism,” one of the premier journals in Scott’s field. It is scheduled to be published in September 2014. Scott has taught in the honors program at Tech and will also be teaching a course in the Spring titled, “The Poetic Roots of Contemporary Song Lyrics,” that analyzes the thought-line of traditional poetic motifs of the popular music of today such as Eminem and Pearl Jam. This is an off-shoot of a popular course Scott taught at Fordham as a post-doctoral fellow. The course led to a pod cast you can listen to here:
Beyond his academic and scholarly endeavors, Scott enjoys trying to somehow enjoy Big Ten football in the south, physical fitness, golfing, and playing his guitar. “My time in the south has been great thus far and I hope to stay here for a long time!” We hope he does, too.