Dr. Donald Jellerson is an Assistant Professor in the Languages and Literatures Department
What’s your educational background?
I did my undergraduate degree at the University of Washington in Seattle. Then I went right from there to a PhD Program at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee.
What courses do you teach here?
I teach a lot of different courses. I teach several Film Studies courses. I’ve taught Gender in Film, Literature on Film, Shakespeare on Film, Film Theory, and next semester I’ll be teaching a Critical Writing in Multimedia Contexts course. In the English Department I teach Freshman English and I also teach a Shakespeare course. Occasionally, I teach other things too.
What are your research interests?
Like my teaching interests, they are fairly broad. Because I have my basic training in Renaissance Studies, I publish in Shakespeare Studies and Poetics in the 16th and 17th centuries. I am editing a play from about 40 years before Shakespeare right now. I’ve also published on film.
How long have you been teaching?
I was teaching part-time while I was getting my graduate degree, but I have been teaching full-time since 2009. After getting my PhD at Vanderbilt, I spent a year teaching in the Women’s and Gender Studies Department, and then I spent a year at a smaller college in Memphis (Rhodes College). After that I got to Whitewater.
What inspired you to become a professor?
In a nutshell, the opportunity to continue to study and learn as a career.
What do you like most about teaching?
The moments that I enjoy most are when I can generate in class a conversation—an exchange of ideas. I don’t really enjoy getting up there and lecturing forever while people take notes. That’s not the most fun kind of teaching. The most fun kind of teaching is when you can get everybody invested and interested in creating knowledge together in a conversation.
What do you like most about UW-Whitewater?
I like where it is—in the middle of Nowhere, Wisconsin but close enough to Madison and Milwaukee. I also like the student body here. When I was teaching at Vanderbilt and Rhodes, it was mostly privileged kids, and they were invested so it was fine. But here, there’s just a big mix of people from all walks of life and different backgrounds. It makes the project of learning a lot more interesting when you have such a vast array of people.
What are some of your interests outside of teaching?
It’s probably not surprising as a literature professor, but I do like reading—even stuff that I would never teach. I like playing music. I play the guitar. I don’t play well enough for anyone to actually listen to me, but I play well enough to entertain myself, so that’s a lot of fun. Occasionally, in the past several years, I have performed in shows. I used to be an actor before I went back to college, so in the past four years I’ve performed in two different Shakespeare shows. It’s fun when I get to do that.
What’s your favorite movie?
My favorite movies continually rotate. I have tons of them. I was really into screwball comedy from the 40s, like Cary Grant movies and old black-and-white comedy movies—movies like Howard Hawks’ His Girl Friday. Recently, I’ve been into Paul Thomas Anderson—I saw Inherent Vice, which just came out, and I thought it was fascinating. I also like the Lord of the Rings movies. I’m a big sci-fi fantasy geek as well.
What is something that your students may be surprised to learn about you?
They might be surprised to learn that I had an acting career before I became a professor. Although I teach Shakespeare and literature, I secretly read pulp sci-fi novels.
Who inspires you and why?
Because of what I do and what I think about, I get inspired by literary critics and philosophers of language, people like Judith Butler, people who have been important in intellectual history, and those who have tried to think about how language works and how it impacts social structures. I get inspired by people who challenge me to think even more deeply about what I do.