About Shealeen A. Meaney
Growing up, Russell Sage College Associate Professor of English Shealeen Meaney mostly loved to read and write. But it should be noted that her parents considered television somewhat toxic, so it’s not like she had a lot of choices.
But in high school, with all its distractions, the love of reading and writing continued. Professor Meaney worked on the school newspaper, kept a journal, wrote a little poetry, and continued to read as if the day might come when books would no longer be available.
In college, she majored in English, and then went on to get her master’s at the University of Tennessee and her Ph.D. at UAlbany.
So, let’s step back.
When Professor Meaney provides a brief sketch of her life, she says that from the time she was in high school she knew she wanted to be an English professor.
Can we all agree now, when she says she knew, she KNEW.
But what Professor Meaney didn’t know was how this career choice would open her up and expand her view of herself and the world.
In addition to teaching courses in American literature, women writers, and travel and environmental literature, Professor Meaney, that one who once holed up in her bedroom with her books, now travels the world and plans the next rough and tumble outdoor adventure. She’s working on a book of her own that explores twentieth-century American women’s travel writing.
But what surprises her even more than how active she’s become, is her interest in marine biology and ecology, and environmental studies. She was never, ever a science person. But it’s not about science really, it’s about the interconnectedness of things, the surprising realizations that come when you go out there and see the whole wide world.
Which takes us back to Professor Meaney the Professor of English. For her, it was always about sharing what she knew about the power of stories.
“It’s how we figure out who we are,” she says. “And who we want to be.”
In Professor Meaney’s view, there’s no other field of study that has as much to offer someone trying to understand, adapt to, and find their place in this rapidly changing world. In her classroom it’s about helping students see and understand why different types of people, from all walks of life, from the beginning of time, do what they do. It’s about seeing other perspectives and becoming more open to new points of view.
“Students learn to listen critically, ask questions, and become aware of things that might be entirely new to them,” Professor Meaney says. “Isn’t this the stuff of every successful career?”
And hasn’t this study taken Shealeen Meaney to places she never dreamed she’d go?
Recent Courses Taught
She enjoys developing interdisciplinary courses that encourage students to explore the connections between the study of literature, their work in other disciplines, and the cultural environments of their daily lives.
“Students learn to listen critically, ask questions, and become aware of things that might be entirely new to them. Isn’t this the stuff of every successful career?”
Professor Meaney is at work on a manuscript that explores 20th-century American women’s travel writing.
“Helga Crane in West Egg: Reading Quicksand and The Great Gatsby as a Case Study in Canonicity.” Approaches to Teaching the Novels of Nella Larsen. Ed. Jacquelyn Y. McLendon. MLA Publications, 2016. 43-52.
Guest Editor: “Women and Travel” a Special Issue of Women’s Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal. 41:14 (2012). Includes Introductory Essay. “Gendered Journeys: North American Women Travelers in the 20th Century and Beyond.” Women’s Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal. 41:14 (2012). 365-371.
“Every head was bobbe’: Anti-tourism, the Identity Market, and Women on the Road in the 1920s” WSQ: Women’s Studies Quarterly. 39.3-4 (Fall/Winter 2010). 266-284.