Ann Pleiss Morris

Reader. No Lectures. Mom.

"I love to read."

My mom used to say that everywhere we went, I carried a book from the time I was very young. I knew very early on that I wanted to be an English major because I love to read, talk about books and analyze the stories.

At Ripon, I can watch the students grow and have good conversations with them. I can say, ‘I see how hard you’ve worked on this paper because I know where you were a year ago.’ I can talk with them about growth. I feel that makes me a stronger teacher and better able to help them become the best students they can be when I am following them for four years and they’re in and out of my office for four years.

I love the fact that Ripon has such a welcoming environment and from my interview onward has felt like home. I feel very comfortable with both my colleagues and my students. Dialog between disciplines allows for great collaborative work between departments. That benefits the students.

I went to a liberal arts college, and it has had long-lasting effects. College was where I really bloomed because I had all kinds of personal attention and was able to explore things I didn’t necessarily have the opportunity to at a larger high school. My parents still remark on how much going to a liberal arts school drew me out of my shell and made me more confident in what I can do.

I’m constantly in contact with my old professors and still look to them for advice and consider them friends as much as mentors. I hope to have that relationship with my own students and still have alumni who will come back, go get coffee, talk about how they’re doing and how English classes have affected their lives, whether it’s a very English-centered field or something completely different.

“None of my classes are lecture classes. We’re going to sit in a circle and talk a whole lot. I want to hear everyone’s voice.”
At the Globe Theatre in London with her son, Julian. Pleiss-Morris is a doting mom who enjoys traveling.
At the Globe Theatre in London with her son, Julian. Pleiss-Morris is a doting mom who enjoys traveling.

#respectfuldifference01

I like the idea of a conversation with broader cultural concerns, whether it’s the time period in which the text was written or our current period. I try to really capture the idea of conversation in a multi-dimensional way.

 

As a graduate student, I wrote a dissertation on the ways that some contemporary theater companies use Shakespeare’s plays to address issues of social injustice. I am intrigued by the ways in which literature is used to process traumatic experience, raise awareness of social injustice, foster empathy between disparate groups, and enact change.

These are ideas I have brought into my courses at Ripon before: in small ways, such as discussing the impact of casting along racial lines in Othello or Antony and Cleopatra, or through deeper explorations, such as my senior seminar course on trauma studies. Yet I felt there was still more I could be doing to help my students think about the important roles that literature, interpretation and writing have in social movements.