Russ McDonald

Degree and Year: 
BA 1971
Professional Title: 
Professor of English Literature
Employer: 
Goldsmiths College, University of London

Professional Background: 
I have spent the past four decades teaching literature, particularly Shakespeare, in six different universities in the US and the UK. I have also served as Trustee and President of the Shakespeare Association of America.

How has being an English graduate from Duke University helped shape your professional success?: 
Studying literature at Duke helped to shape my professional course in at least three palpable ways. First, the opportunity to read literature in an environment that encourages learning and intellectual growth was for me a thrilling relief from the practical realm in which I grew up. Second, the combination in the English faculty of high scholarly standards with attention to teaching taught me much about professional balance and about the genuine value of humanism: I am thinking especially of my learning experiences with George Walton Williams, Oliver Ferguson, and Buford Jones. Third, the constant presence on campus of other like-minded undergraduates taught me much about literature, theatre, music and art, lessons which I was able to develop in subsequent years and from which I still benefit. The well-rounded literary education I received prepared me for graduate school and enabled me to win a fellowship to pay for it.