The Commerce Journal


July 10, 2008

With a little luck, she made it to Commerce

Dr. Kathryn Jacobs' interest in Tolkien, Medieval literature brought her to university

Some may wonder how a Harvard Ph.D. who was reared in Michigan ended up in Commerce, but Dr. Kathryn Jacobs’ journey from the Midwest to the East Coast to East Texas is partly luck, according to this professor of English at Texas A&M; University-Commerce.

According to Dr. Jacobs, there are only a certain number of jobs for a teacher’s particular specialty — she is a Medieval Renaissance specialist — so she applied to Texas A&M; University-Commerce and was soon on her way from the East Coast to East Texas.

“When I came here, it was after I had taken off a few years from teaching to raise my family. It had also been many years since I had gotten my Ph.D. I taught at Glassboro State College, which is now Rowan University in New Jersey, for five years before I took off, but I didn’t have much teaching experience,” said Jacobs. “When I applied, I told the university that my family was grown and I was serious about teaching. They believed me and I got the job.”

Dr. Jacobs, a professor in the Department of Literature and Languages, was born in Germany and grew up in Ann Arbor, Mich. Following high school, she graduated from the University of Michigan with both a B.A. and M.A. in English, and then received her Ph.D. from Harvard. While attending the University of Michigan, she became interested in the Middle Ages after reading Tolkien.

“My particular area of expertise is literature before 1660. I particularly love Chaucer and Shakespeare. I came across the Middle Ages by reading Tolkien, the “Lord of the Rings” series to be exact. Many of the creatures he writes about are all old English words and creatures that appear in Beowulf. I got interested that way and then my teachers gave me Shakespeare. I had a professor, a great professor, who really liked Shakespeare and spent time on him so I was able to read the language,” explained Jacobs. “My mother is British and would always encourage the British side of literature, so I think that’s why I leaned so much toward British literature.”

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