Alexander L. Kaufman is the Reed D. Voran Distinguished Professor of Honors Humanities and Professor of English at Ball State University, where he teaches in the Honors College. He is the author of The Historical Literature of the Jack Cade Rebellion, co-editor of Telling Tales and Crafting Books: Essays in Honor of Thomas H. Ohlgren and Robin Hood and the Outlaw/ed Literary Canon, and editor of British Outlaws of Literature and History: Essays on Medieval and Early Modern Figures from Robin Hood to Twm Shon Catty. He co-founded the journal The Bulletin of the International Association for Robin Hood Studies and also serves as co-administrator for the scholarly blog ‘Robin Hood Scholars: IARHS on the Web.’ He is also a general editor of the series Outlaws in Literature, History, and Culture for Routledge Publishing.
What benefits do you see in teaching from the Honors perspective?
The Honors program allows students to make connections between their own disciplinary interests and intellectual passions with areas of study that may be unknown to them or that are out of their professional comfort zone. Honors is also built around collaboration, both inside the classroom and outside of it. Very rarely do we live lives of total isolation after we graduate and enter either the workforce or graduate school, and so the collaborative ethos of Honors is beneficial to students once they graduate.
If you could be any inanimate object, which object would you be?
I would definitely be a hi-fi stereo system. And this is kind of cheating, because once a person were to play an album or a CD through me, I would be somewhat alive, with the voices, tones, ideas, and passions of others passing through me.
What are some of your hobbies or interests?
I love spending time outdoors in nature, hiking around state and national parks. Since the late 1980s, I have been collecting vintage Kenner Star Wars toys from the original 1977-1985 line. These little pieces of plastic continue to make me happy.
What is a piece of advice you would offer your students?
I would suggest that every student should get to know a professor in his or her field of study, one who could serve as a professional mentor in an official or unofficial capacity. Navigating professional avenues in college and after can be challenging and confusing, and so it is good to have someone who knows the field and who can help you along the way.