Professor Spotlight: Megan Woosley-Goodman


Photo by: Thessalonia Thomas

Assistant professor of English Megan Woosley-Goodman, who enjoys old English, sits and read her favorite book.

For Megan Woosley-Goodman, assistant professor of English, trying to find one’s place in college is an endeavor she is familiar with, so she strives to be a mentor to her students and to share her appreciation of literature with them.

Woosley-Goodman said when she was in college she did not recognize how her affinity toward literature, particularly medieval literature, could become her career; it was not until her advisor in college saw she was taking many English classes and recommended that she declare English as her major that she found her life’s work.

Additionally, she said a professor, who later became an important mentor to her, inspired her to explore medieval studies. Consequently, she knows having a mentor in one’s college career is invaluable, and she appreciates seeing students’ enthusiasm when she fulfills that role.

“I was in a survey of British literature course, and early in the semester my professor was talking about Anglo-Saxon texts and he read Old English aloud,” Woosley-Goodman said. “I was absolutely shocked. Of course, I knew language changed, but to hear what it sounded like in the sixth and seventh centuries was shocking. Then I said to myself, ‘I need to know that language.’ Really, the language study is what got me to be a medievalist.”

Woosley-Goodman said she always loved reading and her family and friends treated her as an authority on various subjects. When she taught as part of her studies in graduate school, she said the teaching role clicked for her despite the intimidation she felt at first.

“I’ve always kind of been a teacher,” Woosley-Goodman said. “My friends looked to me as an authority on subjects they didn’t know, even though I may not have known the answer. Before we had Google, I was like a walking Google. But I didn’t know I wanted to teach in college. When I applied for my master’s degree and I was in front of a college classroom, I felt at home; I knew that’s what I wanted to do. I wanted to teach English and pass on a love of reading. Teaching has been effortless for me because I love it.”

Depending on the kind of class she is teaching, she said the best way for her to teach students is to have done the appropriate preparation, especially for subjects like medieval literature where she must change her approach to translate the material and her knowledge of it.

“It takes a lot of preparation on my part to have my bases covered,” Woosley-Goodman said. “For example, medieval literature is often a foreign world to them or a world that they think they know based on movies and books. It takes planning to teach context before we can even get to the literature.”

In earning her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Southern Illinois University and her Ph.D. from the University of Missouri, she discovered her interest in medieval studies, primarily in medieval literature in Britain.

“In my master’s degree I focused more on Irish literature because I studied in Ireland,” Woosley-Goodman said. “In my Ph.D. program, I shifted focus to Old English, and then I got sidetracked and decided I wanted to specialize in Middle English, so I ended up in fourteenth and fifteenth century England. I wrote my dissertation on the medieval Robin Hood ballads, but my area of specialization is in medieval romance and aristocratic identity.”

In addition to learning about history and studying various subjects, she said English literature provides students with a skillset that is transferable to other aspects of life, especially the elements of empathy students develop through reading.

According to Woosley-Goodman, when she moved to upstate South Carolina after earning her Ph.D., she recognized during her job search that FMU was the ideal institution for her because of the rapport she observed between students and faculty.