Timothy Sweet, professor and associate chair of English, has been named the Eberly Family Distinguished Professor of American Literature.
Sweet, who joined the West Virginia University Department of English in 1990, specializes in American studies from the 17-19th centuries, specifically focusing on literature and the environment, literature and photography and Native American literature.
“I’m grateful to the Eberly family for supporting scholarship in American literature,” Sweet said. “I’ve been associate chair of the English Department for several years now. I look forward to stepping away from that and serving WVU in new ways, especially new teaching and research opportunities.”
The new position will allow Sweet to work with more doctoral students on research such as the literature of the American Civil War, which is the topic of his first book “Traces of War: Poetry, Photography and the Crisis of the Union.”
Sweet is also working on assembling a collection of essays by prominent scholars entitled “Literary Cultures of the American Civil War,” which will include an essay he intends to write on Herman Melville’s commemoration of the war.
Another topic Sweet wants to explore extends from his second book, “American Georgics: Economy and Environment in Early American Literature,” which concerns literature and the natural environment.
“I’m interested in how, beginning in the 18th century, Americans told stories about the extinction of species, e.g., the mammoth, and I want to bring that investigation into the 21st century with our current extinction crisis,” Sweet said.
Sweet received his bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees in English from the University of Minnesota. Prior to his work at WVU, he taught at the University of Minnesota and George Mason University. He has published two books and numerous articles.
The first three Eberly Family Distinguished Professorships were created in 1987 to attract and retain faculty engaged in excellent scholarship within their disciplines. In 1989 and 1992, the Eberly Family Trust of Uniontown, Pa., provided additional financial support to the College through the WVU Foundation to create more Distinguished Professor appointments. Currently, there are 21 Eberly Distinguished Professor appointments, including Sweet, within the College.
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