Tools for Success

As a high school student in Beaumont, Texas, Justin Shaw dreamed of attending Emory University and eventually becoming a surgeon. But then he discovered literature.

Before entering the Laney doctoral program in English, Justin attended Morehouse College where he developed a passion for literature and writing. In his senior year at Morehouse, Justin contacted the English program at Emory and was invited to sit in on a graduate course on Renaissance poetry. Several years later, with a Master’s degree and a couple of years of teaching experience under his belt, he applied to the doctoral program in English.

Now entering his third year in the program, Justin’s research is taking him in new and interesting directions. “What I’ve been most interested in so far are the intersections of race, disease, and disability in the English Renaissance. One thing I’ve been thinking through is how depictions and descriptions of others – as deformed, disabled, degenerate beings – in the New World shaped the way that the English conceived of a self-identity as superior and set apart.  The texts I deal with are in the genres of drama and poetry with authors such as Shakespeare, Sidney, and Spenser. However, the topic has implications for our current world in the areas of politics, economics, religion, and public health.”

The Laney Advantage

Beyond his research, Justin is taking advantage of Laney’s professional development and career planning programming. “Talking about the alternative options to teaching at a major private research institution is a good way to think through how to prepare myself for a wide array of options when on the job market. It also helps me to better anticipate how to create the most effective and engaging learning environments for a diverse group of undergraduate students as I continue to become a better teacher.”

Justin also believes this programming is important as a vehicle for bringing students together. “Every program has its own field-specific priorities. It’s important that LGS make this programming available because it shows that there are things that connect us as graduate students – common experiences, needs, interests. It’s also a great arena to network and get different perspectives on such things as teaching.”

As for the future, Justin wants to teach at the college level. “I’ve taught, to some degree, in all sorts of other environments from elementary school to community college. But I’ve wanted to be a college professor and a world-renowned Shakespearean for a long time. And that’s what I’m going to be.”

Visit Emory’s Shakespeare and the Players website, currently maintained by Justin.