Elizabeth Dalton, Associate Professor of Honors Humanities, has been a Ball State faculty member since 1991. Her fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction essays have appeared in a number of literary journals, including Clockhouse Review, Glassworks, and Adanna. She lives on a homestead near Mooreland, IN, with her husband, John, two dogs, two cats, and eight chickens.
What benefits do you see in the Humanities?
The benefits of the humanities are manifold. Studying the humanities requires students to think about what it means to be human and to consider the importance of human endeavor. Why do you need to do this? Well, we encourage our students to be innovative as well as thoughtful, but how can one be innovative if one is unaware of the important work that has already been done by writers, philosophers, and artists who have come before us? An education in the humanities requires students to be avid readers of all kinds of texts, including poems, novels, drama, art, and architecture. In other words, students learn to read the human-made world around them and then, hopefully, their curiosity will lead them to contribute to this body of literature, art, and philosophy. What could be more life-fulfilling than this?
Are you working on any projects at the moment?
Yes, I am working on a collection of linked short stories titled The Essential Thing. The collection is set in a Hoosier town and features a number of characters who respond to, or at least bear witness to, a tragedy. At the moment I’m revising and I’m here to report that I don’t like it any better than most of my students do!
What are you currently reading?
I’m reading an interesting hybrid (poetry and prose poetry) work titled North Wood by Maryse Meijer. I’m also reading Jane Austen’s Persuasion for my Austen colloquium.
What are some of your hobbies or interests?
I have more hobbies than I have time. In the cold months, I do a lot of knitting and crochet work. In the summer, I love to kayak, garden, and hike. I try to swim year round and I’m always reading something.
Who are your biggest role models, dead or alive?
This list will surprise none of my students: Virginia Woolf, Voltaire, Toni Morrison, John Keats, Jane Austen, and Indiana native Kurt Vonnegut. Outsider girl crush: Ina Garten.
What is a piece of advice you would offer students?
Read everything you can get your hands on–biography, fiction, poetry, the New Yorker, nonfiction, and the backs of cereal boxes. Read it all the way through even if you think you don’t like it. Wait until you’re at least forty to put a book down because you suspect it’s not worth your time. By that age, if you’ve read everything you can, you’ll know what’s worth reading and what isn’t.