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Allan Hunter - English and Honors Faculty
"Literature is a force to help people open their eyes and expand their thinking," says Allan Hunter, professor of English and Honors at Curry College. "The stories we discuss in class nudge students to examine the important issues that everyone faces. Literature helps us sort out life. It helps us think more clearly. And when we think more clearly, we write better and we communicate better."
Professor Hunter uses Shakespeare's comedy "Twelfth Night" as an example of how good literature stays relevant through time - the story explores what it means to fall in love, what it means to get it wrong and to get it right. "I agree with W.H. Auden's remark that 'literature is news that stays news,'" says Professor Hunter. "Stories allow us to gain perspective by encouraging us to reflect on our lives and make connections to what we read."
For his latest research interest regarding the role of ritual and myth in holding societies together in challenging times, Professor Hunter explores student responses to Stephenie Meyer's "Twilight" book series. "I see young people searching for ways to articulate the fears we all share, which makes these mythic stories important to discuss." In his collaboration with the Community Psychology course, Professor Hunter asked students to consider the stories we tell ourselves about who we are. "Everyone in the group shared thoughts and experiences, and we were able to appreciate each other, which helps us realize how much we have to contribute to the world."
In 1986, Professor Hunter arrived in Boston from England after earning his doctorate in English literature at Oxford University, training as a counselor and traveling in India and Africa. "I was drawn to Curry College because I could see how its environment and programs recognize the emotional component of learning." With Curry's small class sizes, Professor Hunter gets to know his students and builds on their input and experiences to create an atmosphere that supports success.
With his unique combination of interests, Allan Hunter mixes teaching, writing and counseling in multiple ways. In addition to coaching writers one-on-one through his counseling practice, he blogs, creates new Curry College courses to explore topics such as the Therapeutic Uses of Writing or the Grimm Brothers' folk tales as literature, and writes books, including "The Sanity Manual," "Life Passages," "Stories We Need to Know," Write Your Memoir" and "Princes, Frogs & Ugly Sisters."
The stimulating environment at Curry lets Professor Hunter "put people in touch with their inner brilliance." That's especially true of his contribution as a teacher in the Honors Scholars Program. There, students can take advantage of the tremendous flexibility not available at other colleges and pursue independent research on self-selected issues that may cross disciplines. For example, one student studied sea urchins and discovered a new species, while another wrote an in-depth analysis of Gregory McGuire's "Wicked."
Professor Hunter enjoys being a positive influence, especially with students who may need a boost to their confidence. "Curry students have great ideas and exceptional energy. Every day, I can see that my work makes a difference. It's one of the great rewards of being here."
During his early years at Curry, Professor Hunter discovered valuable life lessons as he coached the rugby teams. "What impressed me was the strength of the bonds among team members on our two men's teams and two women's teams. They became a huge support system for each other, with an informal web of connections that lasted long after they left Curry."
Professor Hunter notes, "A great benefit of the English program at Curry is the way it opens doors to collaboration and interesting career opportunities."
Some of his students have gone on to be poets or novelists or involved with the publishing industry. Others pursued law school or the legal profession. Some are teachers or practice forms of counseling or psychology. Several have entered traditional business professions. One student even started his own company that leads adventure holidays - he sends postcards to Professor Hunter from exotic locations.
"At Curry College, your personal experience as a learner, as a student, comes first," says Professor Hunter. "You won't slip through the cracks. We listen and you will be heard. We want to know who you are, how you learn, how we can get the best out of you, how we can encourage you and recognize your strengths."
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