Faculty Profile

William Marquess, PhD

Instructor of English, Emeritus
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Ph.D. Harvard University
B.A. Duke University

Areas of Expertise:

My special interest lies in writing fiction.

Courses I Teach:

  • First-Year Seminar (Off the Grid)
  • Fiction Writing Workshops

Paying Attention:

I am a fiction writer and teach writing workshops and introductory literature courses. Writing fiction makes me pay attention to everything - the eye color of the person I'm listening to, the quality of the light, the timbre of a voice. Paying attention to students is crucial in teaching, and teaching keeps me in touch with youth, which is part of the world I want to write about.

My research consists of reading as much fiction as possible and also just paying attention to the world.


I have published a study of Keats.

My Saint Michael's:

My students seem to love discussing how stories work, thinking about why people do the things they do, and hearing stories read aloud. I think they know that stories are how we live.


The small size of the writing workshops makes it possible for students to be true collaborators as they read each others' drafts and help each other create believable, well-shaped stories. And almost every year there's at least one student who wants to go further by creating an independent study in fiction writing. Last summer I directed a student who had won a grant in order to write a novel. Our literary journal, The Onion River Review, is entirely edited by students.

If you show students how much you care about them and about your material, they almost always respond with good attention and effort. And they don't seem to mind bad jokes.

Outside of Saint Michael's:

I speak French and Italian and usually travel to Europe twice a year.

Favorite Quotes:

"Truthfulness anywhere means a heightened complexity." - Adrienne Rich
"Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read." - Groucho Marx

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