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Socrates Citation in Honor of Judith C. Mueller

Professor of 18th-Century English Literature Judith C. Mueller has traveled from the universe of William Blake’s fantastic poetry and Jonathan Swift’s ethical satires to the alternative realities of today’s speculative fiction to the actual world of planet Earth, whose environment, and our stewardship of it, matters deeply to her. She recently published an essay titled, “Gimme Shelter in the Deep Future,” which explores the necessity of our cultivating the capacity to dwell simultaneously in two time zones: the limited span of our lived experiences and the vast span of planetary history. To live in the Anthropocene, Judith writes that we must be sensitive to the “distinct and various temporalities of things: the young crab apple tree that put forth flowers for the first time this year, the sage brush that take many long years to regenerate if disturbed, the grouse that depends on that sage for the coming mating season, the oil rigs recently planted amidst the sage.” To live with hope in an ecocide of oil rigs means traversing personal, cyclical, and cosmic time-scales. Such an ethical vision takes us back to Blake and Swift even as it takes us forward into the “deep future” of speculative fiction, all the while centered in Judith’s own commitments to teaching, scholarship, and the environment.

Judith was awarded the Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching in 2003 and the prestigious Ehrenpries Center for Swift Studies, Richard H. Rodino Award, in 1993. Judith serves on the Hellam Township (Pennsylvania) Environmental Advisory Council and as Woodland Steward for the Lancaster Conservancy. Judith served on the F&M Environmental Studies Committee and regularly offered these two courses: ENG/ENE 260 “Nature and Literature” and ENG/ENE 362 “End of Nature? Literature of the Anthropocene.” A recent program chair says that these were “much loved by students” and that “it's so important for our students to have this grounding in the humanities, and writing in particular, given the crucial role that literature has played in inspiring people to care about the environment and become more engaged citizens.”

Judith served two tours-of-duty as Chair of the English Department, seeing it through an external review that importantly shaped the Creative Writing curriculum. Her door was always open for senior and junior colleagues, whom she mentored into our classrooms and campus with her sense of joy and purpose. Such mentoring is a beautiful art. Judith taught many courses in the long 18th Century and advised a variety of independent studies on such topics as, Vision and Myth: Blake and Yeats; Madness and Literature; From the East End to Albion: British Culture Through Literature and Music.

Judith notably served on the Brobdingnagian Governance Task Force that began the process of revising the Faculty Handbook.

Judith looks forward to living in a state of heightened biophilia on her rural property, as she cares for the land and those creatures who inhabit it. In her poignant beast fable, “Anaxyrus Americanus Lazarus,” Judith writes about the natural wonder of a wee Lazarus, a toad whom she raises from seeming death with water from her garden hose. A must read.


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