Kim McMullen has been a member of the Kenyon English department since 1984, teaching courses in twentieth-century Irish literature, postmodern narrative, American modernism, American studies and James Joyce. Interested in the intersection of gender and nationality in contemporary Irish culture, she is currently completing a book entitled "Decolonizing Rosaleen: Gender, Sexuality, and Nationality in Contemporary Irish Literature and Film." Other research interests include the Irish literary heritage industry, the poetry of Eavan Boland and recent Irish fiction.
She has directed the English department's off-campus study program at the University of Exeter twice and was the recipient of the first Kenyon College Trustee Award for Distinguished Teaching in 1989 and of the 1989 Senior Cup. She has also won the Margaret Church Prize (for an article in Modern Fiction Studies) and the Senior Scholars Award from the Women's Caucus of the MMLA. She has served on many faculty committees over the years, most recently the Curricular Policy Committee and the 2002-03 Presidential Search Committee.
1986 — Doctor of Philosophy from Duke University
1981 — Master of Arts from Stanford University
1976 — Bachelor of Arts from Denison University, Phi Beta Kappa
Courses Recently Taught
Each section of these first-year seminars approaches the study of literature through the exploration of a single theme in texts drawn from a variety of literary genres (such as tragedy, comedy, lyric poetry, epic, novel, short story, film and autobiography) and historical periods. Classes are small, offering intensive discussion and close attention to each student's writing. Students in each section are asked to work intensively on composition as part of a rigorous introduction to reading, thinking, speaking and writing about literary texts. During the semester, instructors will assign frequent essays and may also require oral presentations, quizzes, examinations and research projects. This course is not open to juniors and seniors without permission of the department chair. Offered every year.
From basic techniques of critical analysis to far-reaching questions about language, literature, culture and aesthetics, this course will introduce students to many of the fundamental issues, methods and skills of the English major. Topics will range from the pragmatic (e.g., how do you scan a poem? what is free indirect discourse? how do you use the MLA bibliography, OED, JSTOR?) to the theoretical (how does a genre evolve in response to different historical conditions? what is the nature of canons and canonicity? why are questions of race, class, gender and sexuality so important to literary and cultural analysis?). Students will be given many hands-on opportunities to practice new skills and analytic techniques and to explore a range of critical and theoretical paradigms, approaches which should serve them well throughout their careers as English majors. Our discussions will focus on representative texts taken from three genres: drama (Shakespeare's "The Tempest"), the novel (Shelley's "Frankenstein", Woolf's "Mrs. Dalloway"), and lyric poetry (a variety of poems representing four centuries and several traditions). This counts toward the methods requirement for the major (or, for the classes of 2023 and earlier, the approaches to literary study requirement). Open only to first-year and sophomore students and is strongly recommended for anyone contemplating an English major. Prerequisite: ENGL 103 or 104.
Modernist literature was written under the injunction to "make it new." Our discussion will focus on how American modernist writers made it new, and what "it" was, in each case, that they made. We will pay particular attention to the problematics of gender and sexuality and to the permeability of gender boundaries that produced such figures as Djuna Barnes's Dr. O'Connor, T.S. Eliot's Tiresias and Ernest Hemingway's Jake Barnes. In addition to these three writers, we will read selections from Stein, Faulkner, Hughes, Williams and Larsen, among others. This counts toward the post-1900 requirement for the major and toward the American studies major/concentration. Open only to first-year and sophomore students. Prerequisite: ENGL 103 or 104.
Henry V's resident stage-Irishman, MacMorris, poses the pressing postcolonial question, "What ish my nation?" -- a concern that grows urgent for Irish writers at the beginning of the 20th century. This course will examine the mutually informing emergence of an independent Irish state and a modern Irish literature and will analyze the evolution of postcolonial Irish culture. Focusing on texts from the "Celtic Revival," the revolutionary and Civil War era, the Free State, and present-day Eire, we will analyze literature's dialogue with its historical moment and with its cultural inheritance. We will consider multiple genres (drama, poetry, fiction and film) and such writers as Yeats, Augusta Gregory, J.M. Synge, James Joyce, Padraic Pearse, Sean O'Casey, Elizabeth Bowen, Flann O'Brien, Seamus Heaney, Brian Friel, Eavan Boland, Colm Tóibin and Conor McPherson. This counts toward the post-1900 requirement for the major. Prerequisite: junior standing or ENGL 210-291 or permission of instructor.
Language, race, history, commodity culture, gender, narratology, imperialism, decolonization, sexuality: If the list reads like an encyclopedia of modern/postmodern preoccupations, it's because the text it references -- James Joyce's "Ulysses" -- stands at the de-centered center of so many discussions of 20th-century culture. With a brief review of "Dubliners" and "A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man" as our preamble, we will spend the majority of our seminar following Leopold Bloom through the Dublin day that left its traces on so many aspects of modern and postmodern culture. In the process, we will engage several of the major theoretical paradigms that shape contemporary literary studies. A course in modernism/modernity, the novel as genre, literary theory, Irish literature or Irish history is highly recommended. This counts toward the post-1900 requirement for the major. Permission of instructor required.