Adjunct Spotlight: An Interview with Professor Carolyn Epstein




We love our adjuncts! The Thoma Staff recently interviewed Professor Carolyn Epstein, one of STAC’s English professors, to find out more about her role in our English department.

Thoma Staff: What brought you to academia? What is the best part about teaching at STAC?

Professor Epstein: Prior to coming to STAC about 15 years ago I had a long career in public education in New York City and Rockland County.  I found that many of the skills I had honed over the years could comfortably be transferred into college classrooms. Here at STAC I found an intellectually lively, socially diverse community with great possibilities for creative classes and close interactions with my students.


Thoma: As an English professor, do you have a favorite story/reading passage that you like you students to read?

Prof. E: My favorite passage is from one of the most engaging books in the English language: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. The novel opens with the oft quoted sentence: “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.” Parsing this sentence is so much fun! A number of years ago I had an opportunity to include this book in my syllabus and I remember how it challenged the class to think about dating, marriage, power, social standing – and of course – money.


Thoma: What is your favorite book? Are you reading anything currently?

Prof. E: This is a very difficult question. I have so many “favorites.” However, the one that has most strongly stood the test of time is another one of Jane Austen’s – Emma. It is a deeply complicated book that takes on new meanings and raises more questions with each rereading.

Currently, however, I’ve just been indulging in a stack of delightful British mysteries by Ruth Rendell. This is a genre that I have loved for years – having enjoyed all the books by Dorothy Sayers, Agatha Christie, P.D. James – and others. As a bonus, the BBC has turned many of these books into films – which are now part of my home DVD collection.


Thoma: If someone made a movie adaptation of your life, which actor would you pick to play you?

Prof. E: Oh dear! For this question I had to consult with a few family members and friends. Interestingly the vote was unanimous: Meryl Streep.


Thoma: What is your favorite quote?

Prof. E:  Less a quote and more of a daily reminder: “Do your best.” It’s what my yoga instructor says to our class. And it’s what I remind my own students to consider. It’s so simple.