Dr. Margaret D. Bauer, Professor of English
Why did you choose this profession/field?
For as long as I can remember, I wanted to be a teacher. Then, during high school, an English teacher, Mrs. Cotton, showed us how much Kate Chopin had packed into her two-page short story, “The Story of an Hour,” and I wanted to learn how to read like that, how to see all of those wonderful details, the numerous nuances that revealed the story of a woman’s whole life in just two pages.
Describe your teaching philosophy.
I want to share with students the value of literature in their daily lives: how it teaches empathy and critical thinking, how it allows us to live many lives outside of ourselves. My other focus is on the importance of strong writing skills: that proper grammar and punctuation lead to clear communication.
What are your current research interests?
My work on North Carolina writers never stops: even as one issue of the North Carolina Literary Review finally goes to press after a year of working on it, we are starting on the next one. But I have also recently published my fourth book, A Study of Scarletts: Scarlett O’Hara and her Literary Daughters, and my interest in female characters who resist social limitations continues. Whether I write a sequel, exploring more “Scarletts” remains to be seen. I have also recently published a critical edition of a little known play by North Carolina’s Paul Green, The House of Connelly, and I would like to continue promoting this play to other scholars of Southern literature. At its center is another Scarlett-type character, this one a poor white tenant farmer’s daughter. Resurrecting such forgotten texts has been a large part of my work as NCLR editor, as has promoting new writers, like Eastern North Carolina-born Kat Meads, whose novel The Invented Life of Kitty Duncan, is the subject of a chapter of my Scarlett book. Continuing this work of promoting the literature of my adopted home state, North Carolina, as well as my original home state, Louisiana, continues to motivate my own scholarship, as writer and as editor.
Have you involved your students in your research?
Definitely. The North Carolina Literary Review regularly has 4 or more students on staff: 2-3 graduate students who serve as editorial assistants and 2-4 undergraduate interns. Several of my undergraduate students have also received Undergraduate Research Grants (and before those were offered, Honors Internships) to help me with background research on several of my book and paper projects. Over the years, one student whose thesis I directed developed a chapter of her thesis into an article for the North Carolina Literary Review. And one of NCLR’s graduate student editorial assistants conducted an interview for NCLR, and that interview was selected to open the 2011 (20th) issue.
How do you know you’ve been successful in teaching?
In one graduate class, two of the students ended up publishing their papers in two of the major journals in my field. But sometimes, I “just” know a class is successful when, for example a student gives an incredibly insightful reason for why Charles Frazier doesn’t use quotation marks around the dialogue in Cold Mountain or when a student shows me how the narrator of Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily,” which I have taught—and read—almost yearly—changes from using we to they in one of the last sentences and explains the implication she recognizes in that. Another such moment is when a student pointed out how Tennessee Williams had addressed the film censors’ insistence that he change an aspect of the ending to Streetcar Named Desire by making the change they insisted upon in such a way that the astute viewer (like this student) recognized his original plan even in the changed ending. In other words, I have succeeded when they reveal their developing critical reading skills.
Teaching and Scholarly Interests: Southern literature, women writers (particularly Southern), North Carolina literature
One of your proudest professional accomplishments: Editing the North Carolina Literary Review for almost 20 years now (and counting), which has given me such opportunities as interviewing Cold Mountain author Charles Frazier
Courses You Teach: I regularly teach ENGL 2230, the survey of Southern literature, and when I teach ENGL 1000, Appreciating Literature, I usually focus it on North Carolina historical fiction. When I teach at the graduate level, I teach a variety of Southern-literature focused classes—for example, Faulkner and contemporary writers inspired by him, Women writers of the Southern Renascence
Council of Editors of Learned
Journals (via NCLR)
Council of Literary Magazines
and Presses (via NCLR)
Paul Green Foundation,
Executive Board 2011–present
Advisory Council for the Literary
Map of North Carolina project
Modern Language Association
North Carolina Literary and
(also a past President)
North Caroliniana Society
Society for the Study of
South Atlantic Modern
Fun Fact About Yourself: My senior year in high school, I served as captain of the dance team, as well as Editor of the yearbook and newspaper and President of the Honor Society, and then my class elected me Most Likely to Succeed.