Get to know Trudi Witonsky!



Dr. Trudi Witonsky is an Associate Professor in the Languages and Literatures Department



What’s your educational background?

I got a BA, MA, and a PhD all in English. I went to school at Grinnell College in Iowa and then UW-Madison for my graduate work. I did my minor in African American Studies.

What courses do you teach here?

A lot of the first year English Courses, so 090, 101, 102, 105, and I specialize in American Lit, so I’m doing the second half of the American Lit survey course. I also do a Composition course for future teachers, and I’ve taught Multicultural Drama because I also specialized in twentieth-century multicultural literature.

What are your research interests?

I’ve been researching a couple of women poets who have really been interested in social change that’s come out through feminist movements and multicultural movements. Adrienne Rich and Muriel Rukeyser, June Jordan, and other women poets who’ve been involved.

How long have you been teaching?

I’ve been teaching since 1993, but I’ve been at Whitewater since 2002.

What inspired you to become a professor?

With my minor in African American studies, there was always a sense of giving something back, which I hope I do. I always wanted to work with people- you get so much out of it, and students change all the time. It’s very stimulating. I have great colleagues. Every day changes when you’re working with people.

What’s your favorite part about teaching?

I love hearing other people’s ideas, and the sense of learning that is so continuous. You’re always growing and developing. Each class changes and I have to adapt, so I like that pressure overall, even if I’m crabby about it sometimes in the moment.

What do you like most about UW-Whitewater?

One of the things that I really like is the emphasis on teaching. We also have great faculty here. There’s a commitment to teaching and to ideas that seems really positive- it seems like there’s a positive purpose in what we do here. Another thing that I like about Whitewater is that there are a lot of first generation college students that have so much passion and desire to go on. That’s really motivating and inspirational to me.

What are some of your interests outside of teaching?

I love hiking and gardening, being outside in general is great. There are more things that I’d love to do if I had more time!

What’s your favorite book?

I’m really loving Muriel Rukeyser’s poetry. There’s a book that she wrote in the early 1930’s called The Book of the Dead, and it was about terrible mining practices in West Virginia, but also about her sense of hope and how we can learn and move forward.

What is something that your students may be surprised to learn about you?

I used to listen to a lot of hip-hop, like early hip-hop. I love Public Enemy, De La Soul and the Roots.

Who inspires you and why?

A lot of students do. Stories about why they’re going to school and folks that have overcome a lot to be here are really moving. When I hear what they’ve been through in order to be here I think “okay, I need to do a good job.” That really inspires me.