Faculty Profile: Dr. Christian Davis

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There are many professors here at Bethel College who devote a great deal of time to teaching, and who spend personal time investing in students’ lives. The Beacon sat down with Dr. Christian Davis, professor of English and French, to learn more about his background and teaching experience. Davis received a B.A. in Mathematics and English, as well as his teacher certification, from Thiel College in Greenville, Penn. He then spent a year teaching junior high math before pursuing graduate studies at Pennsylvania State University, where he earned his M.A. and Ph.D. in English. He took two semesters of graduate linguistics at the University of North Dakota and, while teaching English and business communication at Liberty University, earned the equivalent of a year of seminary through part-time studies in Greek, Hebrew, and New Testament at Liberty Baptist Seminary. He also spent a year pursuing intensive French studies at Univérsité Laval in Quebec. Davis said he cChristian_Davis_8_9_2012ame to Bethel because of a job opportunity. “We were in Quebec, learning French, preparing to go as missionaries to Cameroon, when we discovered that our son is deaf,” Davis said. “We discovered that we would not be able to provide the education he needed in Cameroon, wouldn’t be able to maintain his hearing aids, and wouldn’t be able to get signers there. Other things happened as well, so we weren’t able to go, so I had to find a job wherever I could, and this opened up.” Davis has taught at Bethel College for the past twenty years. “I usually arrive very early in the morning because I’m a morning person, so I’ll either have a class or office hours around 8:00,” Davis said. “I always go to chapel, Monday, Wednesday, Friday. I usually teach four, sometimes five, classes in a semester.” Davis said that he enjoys the interaction he has with his students, but doesn’t always enjoy the grading process. Dr. Robby Prenkert, chair of the English department as well as the Committee on the Humanities, said that he has known Davis well for the past fifteen years. “He teaches classes that I’m not sure anyone else is nearly as well-equipped to teach,” said Prenkert. “There are two really important classes that we offer right now, and will continue to offer, that I’m not sure what we would do if he weren’t here to teach them.” Prenkert said he also enjoys Davis’s sense of humor. “He’s funny, he’s witty, he’s an interesting person,” said Prenkert. “In department meetings, we’ll often sit down to start the meeting, and he will say, ‘I move we adjourn.’ It’s sort of a recurring joke.” According to Prenkert, Davis’s impact extends beyond the English department. “I really appreciate Dr. Davis’s contributions to the college as a whole,” said Prenkert. “He buys into what Bethel’s about. You’ll see him in chapel, every chapel. You will see him engaged with his FYE students beyond the classroom, which is what FYE is significantly about. You will see him participating in the extracurriculars of students, in terms of attending sporting events or fine arts events, and also, he has challenges in his home life. His wife is ill, and yet you don’t hear him complain. He is a deeply faithful person.” Davis shared the story behind his book, “Reading for Redemption: Practical Christian Criticism,” which was published in 2011. “It began with a student essay about “The Cask of Amontillado” by Edgar Allan Poe,” said Davis. “I happened to notice that there were a number of biblical allusions in “The Cask of Amontillado” and that the story ended up being a complete inversion of the Gospel. Instead of the dead guy going into the tomb and coming out alive to save, it’s the live guy going into the tomb and staying there dead, no redemption whatsoever. And that got me thinking about how the death of the innocent redeemer shows up even in places where we don’t expect it to show up, and I eventually began seeing it everywhere—in all narratives, I should say.” “Reading for Redemption” has sold 112 copies since its publication. In closing, Davis shared his hopes and expectations for his students: “that they will know more or be able to do more when I am finished with them than when they came to me.” Davis said that he enjoys jogging, canoeing, fishing, cross-country skiing, and playing guitar during his leisure time.
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