Brian Deyo has always been curious about human nature and said he enjoys teaching literature to undergraduate students because they are beginning to discover what it means to be human.
“For many students there are a number of questions at the forefront of their minds that sometimes they don’t know how to ask, and reading and teaching literature helps to facilitate that discussion,” said Deyo.
Originally interested in the sciences, Deyo earned a bachelor’s degree in zoology from Miami University Ohio in 1997. During his research in biological anthropology, Deyo read Look Homeward, Angel: A Story of the Buried Life by Thomas Wolfe and said it addressed questions about the world he didn’t have the confidence to ask openly.
“Literature woke me up to the possibilities of being alive in the world,” said Deyo. “By reading about fictional characters you are provided with various models of how to be or not to be. There’s a way in which reading literature helps us to fashion our identities, the kinds of people we really want to be.”
Deyo then earned a master’s degree in English from the University of Chicago in 2000 and a doctoral degree in English from Vanderbilt University in 2008.
In his current role as assistant professor of English, Deyo is responsible for teaching courses in literature, including British literature, world literature, nature writing and critical theory.
“The best parts about my job are the moments when I’m teaching that I can read the expressions on students’ faces that are they are seeing the world in a new way,” he said.
Deyo’s personal research interests focus on literature that examines human relations with and attitudes toward the environment and non-human animals. He also recently published an article that examines South African and Australian literature and the history of European colonialism in those regions.
In his spare time, Deyo said he enjoys spending time with this family and pets. He also enjoys vegetable gardening, golfing and traveling.