Joyce Munro, M.A.
Joyce Munro, M.A.
Professor Emerita of English
At Eastern from 1994 to 2014
M.A., English, Villanova University
B.A., English, Eastern University
Graduating with an advanced degree in English at a time when getting a PhD seemed folly because no one was getting jobs that used the degree, I went out into the humdrum workaday world as a writer. Rich experiences came my way. I photographed surgery in order to describe an innovative tool and procedure being used to place a shunt in the brain of an infant. I was sent to interview Jean Vanier who was pioneering communal living with developmentally disabled individuals in the context of a deeply spiritual mutuality. I had the privilege of writing three local history books which let me touch manuscripts and hear the stories of hundreds of people, whose family memories sometimes went back 200 years. When the call came from a former professor to teach creative writing at Eastern, I jumped at the chance because it was another opportunity. With the same delight, I also took up the challenge of mentoring students of the college newspaper, The Waltonian, at Eastern, and then the writing of faculty profiles for their promotion portfolios. Twenty years as a writer, twenty years as a teacher—now I’m back to writing—it’s a great life.
Advanced writing courses: essay, memoir, journalism, fiction and playwriting
Why I Taught at Eastern
Eastern is a place with a fierce philosophy of empowerment in the context of everyday spirituality. I enjoyed being part of that place, for how being there fit with my belief in the “Word that was with God” from the beginning and was God. Who we are and where we’ve come from, to some extent, can define where we’re going. To be able to tell that story is to gain clarity and coherence. And often to save at least one life, because as Ishmael Beah says in The Radiance of Tomorrow: “Every story is a birth.” That was my passion at Eastern—to help students find and believe their voices. My research interests revolve around personal narrative—the stories we tell—their uses as definition, medicine, and transcendence. I have enjoyed helping students develop a mother tongue, whatever their own long-term interests, and to develop their personal ethics of work and honesty.
“Ego, craving distinction, belongs to the narrowness of now; but self, looking for union, belongs to the past and future,” writes William Least Heat Moon in Blue Highways. The relationship of time, place, and memory is my current preoccupation. I am preparing a collection of essays that explore this relationship in a place that no longer has a name (except in memory).
Selected Recent Articles
- "Bergey," Orion magazine, online, 2015.
- "Mad at You," Postpartum Progress, online, 2015.
- "The Color Red, or What to Do with Memory," Timbrel, online and print, 2014.
- "What's God Got to Do with It: Teaching Personal Narrative at a Faith-based Institution" in Spirituality in Higher Education, Heewon Chang and Darrell Boyd, Eds., Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press., 2011.