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Suzanne Keen Named Dean of the College at W&L

Suzanne Keen, the Thomas H. Broadus Professor of English at Washington and Lee University, has been named dean of the College.

Daniel Wubah, W&L’s provost, announced Keen’s appointment, which is effective immediately. She had been serving as interim dean since last July.

“I’m very pleased that Professor Keen has accepted this invitation to make her deanship of the College permanent,” Wubah said. “After consulting with numerous members of the faculty and with senior administrators, I am certain that she is not only the best choice for this position but that her appointment will also permit us to continue the momentum that she has already created during the interim year.”

Prior to being named interim dean, Keen served as head of the Department of English and also on two major faculty committees — the Advisory Committee, which reviews tenure and promotion cases, and the Courses and Degrees Committee. As interim dean, she chaired the Courses and Degrees Committee during the 2012–13 academic year and also served on the Faculty Executive Committee. In addition, she launched a collaborative Digital Humanities Initiative, involving faculty, librarians and information technology professionals, and entered into a collaboration with Scholars’ Lab at the University of Virginia, supported with a grant from the Associated Colleges of the South.

Keen has been a member of the Washington and Lee faculty since 1995. She holds an A.B. in English literature and studio art and an A.M. in creative writing from Brown University, and an A.M. and Ph.D. in English language and literature from Harvard University. She taught at Yale from 1990 to 1995. She served on the faculty of Middlebury College’s Bread Loaf School of English during the summers of 2003 through 2010.

A 2008 winner of the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Outstanding Faculty Award from the State Council of Higher Education in Virginia, Keen is a narrative theorist and an internationally recognized authority on literary empathy.

Keen’s interdisciplinary interests combine a longtime devotion to the novel in English with recent neuroscience, developmental and social psychology, and emotion science. Her books include “Thomas Hardy’s Brains: Psychology, Neurology and Hardy’s Imagination,” “Theory and Interpretation of Narrative Series” (Ohio State, forthcoming in 2014), “Empathy and the Novel” (Oxford, 2007), “Narrative Form” (Palgrave Macmillan, 2003), “Romances of the Archive in Contemporary British Fiction” (Toronto, 2001), “Victorian Renovations of the Novel” (Cambridge, 1998) and a volume of poetry, “Milk Glass Mermaid” (Lewis-Clark, 2007).

In addition, she is U.S. co-editor of Contemporary Women’s Writing (an Oxford University Press journal) and guest edited a special double issue of Poetics Today on narrative and the emotions (Spring and Summer 2011, 32.1–2). She teaches the novel in English, postcolonial Anglophone literature and contemporary British fiction.

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