Joanna (Annie) Swafford

Joanna (Annie) Swafford, ’06, English & Music, Assistant Professor, Interdisciplinary and Digital Teaching and Scholarship, SUNY New Paltz

What’s been your career path?

My experience at Wellesley made me committed to undergraduate education, so I love teaching at a liberal arts institution.  I enjoy introducing students to the pleasures of analyzing poetry and of studying literary works in their historical and cultural context.  I especially enjoy showing students how digital tools and techniques, such as mapping, distant reading, and archives, can help us answer complex scholarly questions and lead us to ask questions we had never previously considered. My work at Wellesley, as a double major in Music and English, prepared me for a graduate degree in English at the University of Virginia, where I continued my interdisciplinary research, gained teaching experience, and learned about digital humanities.

How did your English major prepare you for your career?

The English classes I took at Wellesley sparked my love of Victorian poetry and convinced me to attend grad school to continue my studies.  My honors thesis introduced me to the interdisciplinary approach that I adopted for my dissertation and convinced me of the importance of digital humanities, a central focus of my current research.  The individual attention I received during office hours helped me further refine my writing and analytical skills and helped me gain confidence in my ideas.  My work as an English department tutor gave me a taste of the rewards and challenges of teaching.  All of this prepared me well for my responsibilities in grad school and for my current position.