At the Office with Dr. Adrianne Miles

When walking into Adrianne Miles’s office, it is no surprise that this is the workspace of a literature professor. British and American novels line the walls of her office and where she lacks in books, she makes up for in her colorful collection of Wizard of Oz 50th anniversary memorabilia and gifts that former students have given her over the years. From discussing some of her favorite books to what the Lord is teaching her, the assistant professor of English and linguistics took some time to discuss how various items in her office serve as an inspiration to her and others.

You teach British literature for college students. What is an aspect of British literature that inspires you?

The thing that I love about British literature is that it’s old. I like that there are multiple centuries of it, and I like seeing how people really don’t change all that much. The things that Shakespeare wrote about, people are still struggling with – jealousy and love and wanting to be promoted at work–it’s the same. I love seeing how the insights that Shakespeare draws out – like insights about human nature –are still very relevant today.

What is your go-to book from your shelf?

I would probably pick up a more modern novel like Ian McEwan’s “Atonement.” It’s not written from a Christian perspective, but I can’t read anything without thinking about how it is an echo of redemption. This book shows that we all have a desire to be forgiven and that somebody needs to atone for what people do.

What’s a strange book that you have in your office?

“Dobson’s Dry Bobs.” It’s old – 1557. The novel genre hadn’t been invented yet, but it’s a precursor to the novel. A practical joke would be a “dry bob.” It’s one story about this guy, Dobson. Each section is about the practical jokes he plays and the trouble he gets into. It does follow his life but mainly traces his series of practical jokes. So, it’s kind of weird. That is probably the most unusual book I have.

As an English and literature professor, what is a resource you think every college graduate should have?

I think more important than having a certain novel or a certain collection of short stories or a certain collection of poems is having the ability to synthesize what you’re reading and to place it in your world. Even thinking about how to read literature for a graduate today is a bit too narrow because we don’t live in a reading culture; we live in a watching culture. So much of the hypothesis of how to read well or think well about your reading translates to thinking well about your watching. I think it’s important for students to make a connection between literature and shows. It’s part of our literary culture. Music is poetry; shows are narrative.

What was a book that influenced you growing up?

The book that made me really love literature is a book I read in high school. I was a sophomore and one of my friends suggested this novel called “North and South,” which is an American historical fiction novel. I remember thinking, “I’d rather read this than do anything else right now.”

What’s something you’ve been learning in scripture these days?

I’m reading through the Bible in a year. Often as I finish whatever part I’m reading, my prayer is, “God, thank you that you’re patient with me even when I am like the Israelites, but help me not to be as dense as they were.” I think as we immerse ourselves in scripture and know the Bible better, we know God better and we can talk about his faithfulness. God took care of the people who were taking jewelry and making idols and doing all kinds of crazy things and he still loved them. He’s taking care of us. He has a plan for us, too.

*This article has been edited for length and clarity

At the Office with Dr. Miles

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