Faculty Profile: Dr. Dana Aspinall
If you would have gone to Dana Aspinall’s high school and told him that someday, he would become an English professor, he would have laughed you out of the building.
“I hated English in high school! I hated Shakespeare in high school!” he says.“I never imagined I ever would be teaching Shakespeare.”
Though Aspinall began college as an environmental studies major, he quickly learned being in a lab wasn’t for him. Luckily, his bad experiences with English were easily erased by one incredible one.
“I took some English classes as general requirements, and I loved the professors I had, so I kept taking their classes without worrying about a major,” he says. “I remember the exact moment in class where I decided to be an English major: the professor was discussing one of the final scenes of Paradise Lost. Just talking about the beauty of the text made my professor weep. I’d never seen someone be so affected by something like that. It was very powerful. I went to the registrar’s office right after that class and registered for my English major because I wanted to find what she had found.”
And find it Aspinall did. The sheer beauty of literature caused him to follow his passion to the University of South Carolina, where he got his master’s degree in Renaissance and Medieval Literature, and then to the University of Connecticut, where he earned his doctorate in Renaissance Drama.
“I never once worried about my career. It’s the one thing in my life that really fell into place,” he says. “I followed my passion for English literature, and it led me here. I like what I do. I like my students.”
Aspinall’s dedication for his students easily matches, or even outdoes, that which he has for English literature, and is evident both in and out of the classroom.
“Talking about my subject with students is my favorite part of my job. I absolutely love it,” he says. “It’s so neat to hear people contributing and see students that really have a passion to learn. I like the social opportunities to get to know my students out of class through Sigma Tau Delta, the English honorary, and things like the spring term to London I lead every other year.”