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Michael Elam, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Language and Literature

Education

  • Ph.D., English, Saint Louis University, St. Louis, MO
  • M.A., English, Rutgers University, Newark, NJ
  • B.A., English, Rutgers University, Newark, NJ
  • Minor: Classical Civilization, Rutgers University, Newark, NJ
  • B.A., Ministerial Studies, Trinity Life Bible College, Sacramento, CA
  • Transfer with no degree, American River College, Sacramento, CA

Honors and Awards

  • Clarence Miller Award, Saint Louis University, 2007
  • English Department Award for Highest Distinction in Literary Studies, Rutgers University, 2006
  • Graduate, Rutgers Honors College, 2004
  • Madison C. Bates Award for Outstanding Scholastic Achievement in the English Department
  • Rutgers University, 2004

Classes Taught

  • ENGL 101: English Composition
  • ENGL 102: Research and Academic Writing
  • ENGL 211: British Literature: Middle Ages-18th Century
  • ENGL 332: Medieval English Literature
  • ENGL 335: Milton and the 17th Century
  • ENGL 485: English Senior Seminar
  • ENGL 475: Special Topics: Faith and Fantasy Fiction (Invited lecturer)

Research Interests

Medieval English, Norse, and Celtic Literature, Modern Science-fiction and Fantasy Literature, Theology and Philosophy of Beauty and Aesthetics in Literature

Teaching Philosophy

My teaching philosophy encourages students to expand and refine their academic skills in order to better understand themselves and others in the context of their relationship with Christ. I want students to consider that their university studies are a result of their relationship with God—that because of one's relationship with God, one studies animation, business, theater, law, or whatever one's major happens to be. The goal is to get students to de-compartmentalize their thinking about faith as a discreet category distinct from work, family, church, etc. Instead I want students to see their relationship with Jesus as the impetus from which their entire life flows. They are free to study, to go to the park, to eat-out, or to refrain from such things because of their relationship with the Lord. Such conscious inclusion of the Lord into academic work must be, I believe, explicitly presented by teachers to their students. Students may not realize on their own that even their university studies are guided by God, and that God wants to be relationally involved with students in those, and all pursuits.

I see the process of higher education as an apprenticeship. Students benefit from experienced teachers who are experts in their field leading them through processes of questioning, testing, and affirming ideas in a safe environment. Students in my courses refine ideas and methodologies in order to build their knowledge and strengthen their faith, without fear of making mistakes in the process. Helping students develop Godly values with intellectual rigor to understand and serve their community is the main purpose of the apprenticeship model I have used in literature and composition courses. I use a largely Socratic lecturing method to establish a mentoring relationship with students. The method supports even as it challenges students to expand their critical thinking abilities and writing practices while building their relationship with Jesus. Interactive class discussions and teacher-led instruction help students refine their thoughts and open new avenues of inquiry. I assess student learning according to the overall quality of each student's work and the trajectory of their progress. Criteria set forth in assignment-specific rubrics help students reach class goals.

Biography

Michael Elam was born and raised in North Highlands, California, lived in northwestern New Jersey and the greater St. Louis area before coming to Chesapeake. He holds B.A. degrees in Ministerial Studies from Trinity Life Bible College in Sacramento, CA and in English from Rutgers University, where he also minored in Ancient Mediterranean Civilization. He also holds a M.A. degree in English from Rutgers University. He received his Ph.D. in English from Saint Louis University, where he concentrated on Medieval Studies. Dr. Elam has taught in higher education settings in various capacities for over ten years, including teaching Latin, composition, and various literary courses.

Dr. Elam lives with his wife, daughter, and son in the Chesapeake area. He enjoys outings with his family and projects with his children. He also enjoys reading—especially science-fiction, fantasy, children's literature, and folk stories—writing, and listening to music. Although Dr. Elam is a self-described home-body, he enjoys a variety of outdoor activities, but mainly yard and garden work. He and his family attend a Presbyterian church in Chesapeake and enjoy fellowship with their community group.

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