Lucas Carpenter’s 18 years at Oxford have
been marked by a lot of firsts. He was the first Oxford faculty
member to hold a Candler professorship. He was the first to earn
a Fulbright scholarship. And, as of this month, he is the first
Oxford professor to be honored with the University Scholar/Teacher
“It’s very satisfying to receive this kind of recognition,
no doubt about it,” said Carpenter, Charles Howard Candler
Professor of English. He came to Oxford in 1985 after faculty positions
at SUNY-Stony Brook and Suffolk College. “I think [the award]
further establishes Oxford’s credentials within the University
Established in 1981, the Scholar/Teacher Award rewards a faculty
member who has shown exceptional teaching ability, concern for students
and colleagues, significant contribution to the scholarly life of
the University and a commitment to high standards both personally
The Scholar/Teacher Award is the latest honor for Carpenter in what
has been a prolific Emory career. In 1999, Carpenter earned a Fulbright
scholarship, which he used to teach classes at the Katholieke Universiteit
Leuven in Leuven, Belgium, on modern American literature and U.S.
literature of the Vietnam War. At Oxford’s Commencement in
2000, Carpenter was named a Candler professor. He has won every
teaching award available at Oxford and has been named Oxford’s
professor of the year three times.
The firsts do not stop with Carpenter’s resume. For the first
time, Oxford’s Commencement was the site of the Scholar/Teacher
award announcement. And for the first time, a sonnet (written by
University Secretary Gary Hauk) and recited by interim Provost Woody
Hunter and President Bill Chace—at the Oxford and main Commence-ment
ceremonies, respectively—served as the recipient’s introduction.
The most published faculty member at Oxford, Carpenter has edited
a seven-volume scholarly series devoted to the life and work of
John Gould Fletcher, has written two books of poetry and has published
more than 200 articles, book reviews and stories. Most recently
he has written essays on addiction as a postmodern metaphor for
Southern Humanities Review and another piece looking at
Vietnam War fiction from a postmodernist perspective for College
Literature (a Vietnam veteran, Carpenter was awarded the Bronze
Star for his service).
Normally, Carpenter teaches three classes per semester, but this
past spring he taught or co-taught five classes—one section
each of creative writing, Southern literature and American literature.
He also co-taught two other classes—American Literature and
Race with political science Associate Professor William Cody, as
well as another course that took him and his students a bit beyond
Oxford’s quaint campus.
For the last six springs Carpenter and Oxford sociology Professor
Mike McQuaide have chaperoned students to Ecuador to study shamanism
for the professors’ team-taught class, Social Change in Developing
During Spring Break this year they spent 10 days in the Amazon jungle
and the Andes Mountains, where they interviewed several shamans
and observed their rituals and ceremonies.
“Many of the students consider it a life-changing course,”
said Carpenter. “We really do go to the limits of civilization—where
the roads run out and the only access is by boat and trail.”
This summer, Carpenter will be taking another trip, only this destination
will be a bit easiser to reach. For three weeks he will be in western
Canada researching shamanism in the Native American tribes of the
northwestern United States and Canada.