Section: Features

Exeter professor flies across the pond for a stint at Kenyon

Exeter professor flies across the pond for a stint at Kenyon

Photo by Amy Shirer

Although Visiting Assistant Professor of English Margaret Yoon has lived all over the world, this summer she landed in the Village of Gambier.

Born in Seoul, South Korea, Yoon’s family moved to Connecticut when she was a infant. She attended Yale University for her Bachelor’s degree in English, before earning her Master’s degree from Georgetown University and her Ph.D from the University of Exeter in England. Yoon intended to return to the United States after her Ph.D program, but in 2009, right after her graduation, she received a teaching fellowship at Exeter. While at Exeter, she collaborated with Kenyon students and faculty through the Kenyon-Exeter exchange program.

Now on the Hill, Yoon is making herself at home. She is teaching an English course entitled Satire, Sensibility, and Enlightenment — which focuses on 18th-century satirical literature — and a seminar on the writings of Jane Austen.

“Professor Yoon is the kind of professor who is clearly very enthusiastic about what she teaches,” Savannah Daniels ’18 said. “Even when it’s a story I wouldn’t typically like, she makes it engaging to talk about.”

Teaching at a new school is not the only transition Yoon has had to make. One major adjustment for Yoon is America’s dependence on cars for transportation, since she lived in England for 12 years. In English cities, she said, people generally get around using buses or trains.

“When I heard that Gambier was a really small village, I kept thinking ‘small village’ but it didn’t translate to ‘lack of public transportation,’” she said. “I walk everywhere. I have friends who will take me to the grocery store. I haven’t checked out the shuttles yet.”

Yoon is also trying to acclimate to the weather. She said that in England, the weather usually stays within a 20-degree range. “I didn’t think I was going to make it through August,” she said about the heat. “It was really hard.”

Although she misses England’s beautiful landscape, Yoon also delights in the greenery of her new surroundings. Through a mutual connection, she is subletting a Kenyon professor’s home during her stay in Gambier.

Yoon’s favorite part of teaching at Kenyon is the students. In England, students commit to their area of study when they apply to a university, so they are locked into a specific subject when they arrive on campus. In contrast, Yoon believes her students here are very aware of other disciplines besides English, due to the liberal arts curriculum.

“In that way, the students I teach in England might have a better sense of literary history, but they won’t have as broad a sense of what else is out there,” she said. “They are a bit more reticent as well, whereas I think Kenyon students are energetic and exuberant, which is good.”


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