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Dr Roxanne Eberle Leaves Park Hall

By Jessica Schumaker

Dr. Eberle HeadshotWhen I meet Dr. Eberle, she’s just returned from the Special Collections Library. The course she’s teaching this semester, a single-author study on Jane Austen, had gone to see samples of regency era fabric—exactly what characters in Jane Austen’s novels would have worn. The samples would become part of one of her student’s creative projects, which she shows me proudly. “It’s something I’ll miss,” she says. “Experiencing the joy of students making these rediscoveries and sharing it.”

It’s poetic that Dr. Eberle is finishing her career at UGA teaching Austen, as at the beginning of her career at UGA she taught the first class offered by UGA on Jane Austen. She continued to teach Austen and 18th and 19th century British Literature. Twenty-nine years later, she’s held positions in administration: two terms as the undergraduate coordinator, one as social media coordinator, and most recently she was associate head for two years.

No matter what position she held, though, Dr. Eberle always maintained her passion for teaching. She says that one of the things she’ll miss most is the moments of unique insight and discovery that can only be found in the classroom. “There are just moments of pure joy,” she says. Moments where she introduces a student to a novel or poem, and they have an insight that “blows my mind.” There are funny moments too; for example, when a student titled an essay “Samuel Taylor Coleridge, the Drug Addict” after she had mentioned his addiction to laudanum in passing. Dr. Eberle felt it was an important lesson for her future teaching philosophies, which are largely informed by making sure students have proper context and biography, so that they can better engage with and understand the work. Later in her career, Dr. Eberle feels fortunate to have been able to mentor a host of wonderful graduate students. “Watching them grow and flourish has been really important—truly priceless,” she says.

Dr. Eberle Teaching

Paralleling her love of teaching is Dr. Eberle’s love of books. “I got my first purse when I was eight, and I got it solely for the purpose of keeping books in there,” she says, laughing. Her love of books was always a part of her life, but Dr. Eberle began her undergraduate career at SUNY Buffalo as a psychology major. She switched to communications, thinking of taking a business focus, but “this whole time I was taking English courses. And at a certain point I realize I’m an English major.” After graduating, Dr. Eberle applied to graduate schools while working at a Fotomat (I had to google what that was). “I was chewing gum and reading a magazine, and I got a call from UCLA offering me a fellowship.” At UCLA, her dissertation shifted from Virginia Woolf to a passion that has endured for her: lesser-known women writers of the Romantic era. While she loved—and still loves—Virginia Woolf and the well-known writers of that period, she “[loves] the detective work of learning about these women writers, who had been so well-known in their period, but completely forgotten with time.”

Dr. Eberle

After 29 years at UGA, though, Dr. Eberle is looking forward to the future. “I’ve loved every minute, but I’m also pretty excited about the next stage,” she says. In California, where Dr. Eberle plans to move with her husband, waits a sizable family, and her daughter, who is finishing her last year at Berkeley. The project she is most anticipating is finishing her second book, Amelia Opie’s Sociable Lives, and reading all of Virginia Woolf’s writing— “from the very beginning to the very end in chronological order, inclusive of novels, letters, and diaries.” She says she feels it’s fitting to her “narrative arc” because her journey in academia began with Virginia Woolf, so it provides a satisfying symmetry to wrap it up the same way. Most important to Dr. Eberle, though, is to never stop growing. “You have to keep discovering things, even when it’s different; maybe it’s even more important to discover something that is unexpected.” 


Jessica Schumaker is a third-year English major and the media intern for the English department.


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