Dr Eric O’Brien is an instructor in the United Nations Department of English. He has been teaching ecological writing and analysis as part of the Master of Arts in Critical and Creative Thinking since 2015. He also teaches first year writing, critical approaches to literature and other literature courses at l ‘UN.
Dr O’Brien is a UN alumnus who received his BA in English in 2003, and he received his PhD in English Literature from the University of California, Davis, with a specialization in Critical Theory. His dissertation examined the intersections of agricultural writing and poetics from Milton to Wordsworth. In particular, the work analyzed Paradise Lost using the Digger writings of Gerard Winstanley, and he investigated the agricultural writings of the first English Board of Agriculture to unpack the agricultural figures in Lyrical Ballads and The Prelude.
What do you like most about teaching a course that is part of the MA CCT program?
My favorite part of the MACCT program is the great diversity of interests and experiences that our students bring to the classroom. Ecological writing and thinking are universal concerns relevant to all humans living on our planet in the 21st century, but ecological writing can also reflect unique and individual perspectives – and our students certainly approach these works from a perspective. multitude of lives and professional backgrounds. Culinary and food studies students find they can learn a lot from active-duty service members, and health science administrators who interact with high school teachers are collaborating to generate new analysis. This interdisciplinarity benefits everyone. Each semester I learn as much as I teach.
Nebraska’s position at the center of the United States puts us at a geographic and cultural crossroads, but the UN’s MACCT program offers just as many intersections and intersections of students and ideas, regardless of location.
Tell us two interesting things about yourself.
When I’m not teaching, reading, or writing, I’m trying to transition from parenting two children to mentoring two young adults. One girl is in college and the other is in her final year of high school, so my role now is to shut up and let them make their own informed decisions. For someone who thinks and talks for a living, it’s hard work, but like many of my graduate students, I’m learning new ways of interacting with the world. My wife is an English teacher at a primary school in Omaha, and we are trying to rehabilitate an old house near the UN campus.
To keep a fresh mind, I try to stay physically active: I cycle road, mountain and cyclocross with a local amateur team and I train mountain biking for young people in the summer. I also try to spend at least a week or two every year deep in nature, away from the things of humans.