Sarah Heidt joined Kenyon's faculty in 2004 and specializes in nineteenth-century British literature and culture, auto/biography and life writing, and women's writing. She has published portions of her research into Victorian and contemporary life writings in "Victorian Studies," "Nineteenth-Century Contexts" and "Adaptation." In 2007-08, through the Whiting Teaching Fellowship, Heidt held a visiting fellowship at Clare Hall (University of Cambridge), where she is now a life member. Having won the junior Trustee Teaching Excellence Award in 2010, Heidt has focused her recent research on holistic and integrative approaches to college-level teaching and learning. She spent spring 2013 as the Lenz Residential Fellow in Buddhist Studies and American Culture and Values at Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado, studying contemplative pedagogy and its applications to literary study.
Particularly fond of George Eliot, Virginia Woolf, Ali Smith, Rebecca Solnit, Toni Morrison, and the OED, Heidt is rarely happier than when immersed in a book, taking or teaching a yoga class, or sitting in silence.
Heidt has taught the Kenyon Educational Enrichment Program (KEEP) three-week intensive writing course for nine summers since 2006 and has served as resident director of the Kenyon-Exeter Program (2011-12, 2013-14, 2018-19), faculty-in-residence (2014-15), faculty co-chair of Campus Senate (2014-16), and English department chair (2016-18). She won the Faculty Advising Award in 2017 and was chosen by the senior class to deliver the Baccalaureate Address in 2010 and 2018.
Areas of Expertise
Nineteenth-century British literature and culture, auto/biography and life writing, women's writing, literatures of memory, pedagogy.
2003 — Doctor of Philosophy from Cornell University
2000 — Master of Arts from Cornell University
1997 — Bachelor of Arts from Kenyon College, 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.
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 department chair. Offered every year.
Autobiographical writing allows us to study the complicated cultural and personal dynamics of self-making, as individual authors define (and show themselves to have been defined by) their sociohistorical circumstances. How do writers confront or capitalize on such intersections of the personal and the historical? How and why do autobiographers translate life experiences into writing? How do they grapple with elements of experience that are difficult to represent in language? Is truth necessary to — or even possible in — autobiographical writing? How have writers' gendered, sexualized, classed, raced or geographically located identities shaped the possibilities and purposes of autobiographical narrative? And where is the line between autobiography and biography? In this survey of classic and experimental autobiographical texts, as well as of major developments in autobiographical theory, we will consider broad questions of identity, time and memory, and narrative through close attention to specific works' subjects, structures and histories. Authors may include Augustine, Thomas De Quincey, Harriet Jacobs, Gertrude Stein, Virginia Woolf, Vladimir Nabokov, Malcolm X, Maxine Hong Kingston and Art Spiegelman, among others. Students will write two essays and several reading response papers and will lead one class discussion. This counts toward the creative practice and post-1900 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. Prerequisite: ENGL 103 or 104.
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.
This course will introduce students to the wide range of questions, scandals, lessons, and pleasures to be found in nineteenth-century novels. We will attend to questions of how the 19th-century novel differed from its predecessors and successors how the novel, as a genre, grappled with the nineteenth century's relentless social, political, and technological changes and how novels functioned within and across national boundaries and literary traditions. How were 19th-century novels packaged and marketed? Who read them, and how did they read them? How have they survived into other media (including authorial public readings and theatrical and cinematic adaptations) since their initial publications? How might careful study of another era's fictional literature help us both to understand that era and to reexamine our own historical and cultural moment? This counts toward the 1700-1900 requirement for the major. Prerequisite: junior standing or ENGL 210-291 or permission of the instructor.
This course will afford us an opportunity to concentrate on and to luxuriate in one novel, George Eliot's "Middlemarch" (1871-72), and to consider how close study of a single literary work can afford a window onto the cultural, political, and intellectual developments of a complex historical period. During our first read, we will move through this eight-part novel at roughly the pace at which you might have encountered it in a course on the Victorian novel or on George Eliot's works more broadly. On our second read, we will move at the much slower pace of one part per week, bringing various contextualizing materials to bear upon our rereading. This course will thus function both as a chance to become deeply conversant with an iconic British novel and also as an experiment in slow reading and in rereading. We will engage with questions of literary form and formal close-reading, of cultural and biographical contexts, of publishing and reception history, and of changing critical and theoretical perspectives. Students will take a midterm exam, design and conduct part of a class session, and write a final research essay. This counts toward the 1700-1900 requirement for the major. Prerequisite: junior standing, ENGL 210-291 or permission of instructor.
This seminar will require students to undertake a research paper of their own design, within the context of a course that ranges across genres, literary periods and national borders. Students will study literary works within a variety of critical, historical, cultural and theoretical contexts. All sections of the course will seek to extend the range of interpretive strategies students can use to undertake a major literary research project. Each student will complete a research paper of 15 to 17 pages. Senior English majors pursuing an emphasis in literature are required to take instead ENGL 405. Students pursuing honors will take ENGL 497 rather than ENGL 410. Prerequisite: senior standing and English major or permission of instructor. Offered every year.
Individual study in English is a privilege reserved for senior majors who want to pursue a course of reading or complete a writing project on a topic not regularly offered in the curriculum. Because individual study is one option in a rich and varied English curriculum, it is intended to supplement, not take the place of, coursework, and it cannot normally be used to fulfill requirements for the major. An IS will earn the student 0.5 units of credit, although in special cases it may be designed to earn 0.25 units. To qualify to enroll in an individual study, a student must identify a member of the English department willing to direct the project. In consultation with that faculty member, the student must write a one-to two page proposal for the IS that the department chair must approve before the IS can go forward. The chair’s approval is required to ensure that no single faculty member becomes overburdened by directing too many IS courses. In the proposal, the student should provide a preliminary bibliography (and/or set of specific problems, goals and tasks) for the course, outline a specific schedule of reading and/or writing assignments, and describe in some detail the methods of assessment (e.g., a short story to be submitted for evaluation biweekly; a thirty-page research paper submitted at course’s end, with rough drafts due at given intervals). Students should also briefly describe any prior coursework that particularly qualifies them for their proposed individual studies. The department expects IS students to meet regularly with their instructors for at least one hour per week, or the equivalent, at the discretion of the instructor. The amount of work submitted for a grade in an IS should approximate at least that required, on average, in 400-level English courses. In the case of group individual studies, a single proposal may be submitted, assuming that all group members will follow the same protocols. Because students must enroll for individual studies by the seventh class day of each semester, they should begin discussion of their proposed individual study well in advance, preferably the semester before, so that there is time to devise the proposal and seek departmental approval before the established deadline.