Ted Mason has been a member of the Department of English at Kenyon College since 1989. He held prior teaching positions at the University of Virginia, Trinity College, and Mount Holyoke College.

Professor Mason teaches courses in African-American literature and culture, modern literature and literary theory. He is also an active participant in the African Diaspora Studies Concentration, frequently acting as director of the program. From 1999-2003 he was Kenyon's John B. McCoy-Bank One Distinguished Teaching Professor.

Professor Mason's teaching interests coincide with his research interests. He is the author of several articles, reviews, and presentations on African-American literature, culture, and literary theory. During 2003, Professor Mason served as president of the International Society for the Study of Narrative Literature. In 2008, he was elected to the Executive Committee of the Association of Departments of English (ADE), an organization sponsored by the Modern Language Association. He served as ADE President in 2010. From 2012-2015 he will serve as a GLCA/Teagle Foundation Pedagogy Fellow.

Areas of Expertise

African-American literature and culture, narrative theory, literary and cultural theory.


1979 — Doctor of Philosophy from Stanford University

1972 — Bachelor of Arts from Wesleyan University

Courses Recently Taught

In this course, students study the fashion in which the concept of race becomes a powerful influence on U.S. literature between 1800 and 1900. We think extensively about the relation between the attempt to produce a national literature and the conundrum presented by race. Beginning with literary precursors in the 17th and 18th centuries (e.g., Puritan captivity narratives), we work our way through authors such as Thomas Jefferson, James Fenimore Cooper, Herman Melville, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Mark Twain and Charles Chesnutt among others. As we do this, students study how national identity influences literary production and how that production forges national identity. As they study this reciprocal relation, students also gain a familiarity with basic concepts in critical race theory. This counts toward the diversity and the 1700-1900 requirements for the major. Prerequisite: ENGL 210-291 or junior standing.

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 earns 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 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 30-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 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.

In this course, students will focus on the challenges facing academic knowledge workers (in management consultant Peter Drucker's famous phrase). We will consider concrete methods that allow us to do our coursework, research and writing more creatively, more productively and more efficiently. Achieving this goal will require us to familiarize ourselves with some of the leading ideas in the field of intellection, cognition, organization and human learning. Students should expect to be active participants in this course and be open not only to learning about the processes of learning itself, but also to developing strategies for becoming better learners. Although this course is open to all students, first-year and sophomore students especially are encouraged to enroll. No prerequisite.