Mark S. Graybill

Mark S. Graybill, PhD

  • Director of the Honors Program in General Education
  • Professor of English

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Affiliated Programs


  • PhD American Literature (1998)
    University of South Carolina (SC)
  • MA, English (1992)
    University of Tennessee (TN)
  • BA, English (1990)
    Roanoke College (VA)

About Me

One of the things I've learned in my two decades (or so) of experience in the classroom is that good teaching requires flexibility—a willingness to change course when there is evidence that the class needs it—but also an openness to taking a slight detour when there is the strong likelihood that something interesting could happen. Improvisation does not always come easy to me (as anyone who has seen me play guitar will attest); I tend to value design, structure, and order in my teaching. I am convinced though that flexibility is sometimes a necessary element of effective teaching. Sometimes it is even healthy to try something unexpected in class on the spur of the moment.

College is hard work, but it should be exciting and fun too—and sometimes that means we all have to leave our comfort zones.

Research Interests

My scholarly projects have tended to explore three occasionally overlapping areas: 1) southern fiction and postmodernism, which extends work done for my dissertation, but with a sharper focus on humor (and a less dogmatic application of postmodern theory); 2) the intersection of rock music and literature/literary theory; and perhaps most significantly, 3) the art (and aesthetic philosophies) of Flannery O'Connor, which I have striven to approach from what might be called 'undoctrinaire' perspectives.

I have published several articles on O'Connor, as well as other authors, including Don DeLillo, James Dickey, William Faulkner, Barry Hannah, and Walker Percy. I've also published on Bruce Springsteen, and I am co-editing a collection of essays on explorations of evil in rock music.

Media Expertise

  • 20th-century American literature, particularly fiction
  • Southern literature and culture
  • Postmodern literature and culture
  • Literary theory


  • Graybill, Mark S. "O'Connor's Deep Ecological Vision." The Flannery O'Connor Review 9 (2011): 1–18. Web.
  • Graybill, Mark S. "'As Empty as Paradise': Reading Religion in Bruce Springsteen's The Rising." Studies in American Culture 33.1 (2010): 17–35. Web.
  • Graybill, Mark S. "'Peeping Toms on History': Never Die as Postmodern Western." Perspectives on Barry Hannah. Ed. Martyn Bone. Oxford: The University Press of Mississippi, 2006. 94–110. Print.

Professional Affiliations & Memberships

Society for the Study of Southern Literature (SSSL), Flannery O'Connor Society


  • Jerome K. Stern Award for Outstanding Essay published in Studies in American Culture (2010)
  • Clarence R. Moll Professor of the Year Award from the Widener Student Government Association (2010)
  • Awarded a $3,000 stipend by the NEH to attend "Reconsidering Flannery O'Connor" institute (2007)



  • Mark Graybill publishes article in Studies in American Culture

    English Professor Mark Graybill published "Anxiety, Aestheticism, and Asceticism in the Fifties: Danger on the Postwar Home Front in Flannery O'Connor's Wise Blood and Charles Laughton's The Night of the Hunter" in the Studies in American Culture's October 2019 issue.

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