Buck Beliles still remembers the books that changed his life. Although not unusual assignments for a college freshman, the two literary works—The Big Money and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man—were responsible for altering more than his course of study (from international relations to English literature); they changed the way he thought about everything from love to politics. His hope is that the literature he teaches today can have the same profound influence on the lives of his students.
A specialist in Renaissance literature, Dr. Beliles exposes students to a wide range of authors, hoping that this richness of diversity will help readers broaden their perspectives, learn the complexity of interpretation and discover their favorite authors. His own favorites—and the subjects of his research and publications—are John Donne and William Shakespeare.
“Hamlet is wonderful to teach because people still connect to it after 400 years,” he says. “We discuss how Shakespeare organizes his layers of meanings as the play unfolds, and what it is that keeps Hamlet so popular, and so relevant.
“What I really hope I convey to students is how much literature means to us. It shows us who we can be, as well as the people we’re not.”