Lyon Logo


·  Terrell Tebbetts

·  Virginia Wray

Associate Professors

·  Helen Robbins

·  Ronald Boling


·  Wesley Beal


·  Andrea Hollander Budy

English Major

·  Course Listing

English Minor




Students majoring in English love language because they understand its power to reflect and to shape human experience, and they work hard at mastering it. As readers, they become good analysts of style and content, character and theme, with an understanding of the traditions and tools of writing and an ability to develop their own disciplined and creative responses to whatever they read — whether they are reading Othello in an English class or a corporate report later in life. As writers, they become masters of the principal tool of thought—language—sometimes becoming published writers before they graduate. This mastery of the written word — both as a critical and insightful reader and as an adept and creative writer — provides an excellent foundation for a wide range of professions and for a fulfilling lifetime of continued reading and learning.                                   


Terrell Tebbetts

Martha Heasley Cox Chair in American Literature

Teaching: Dr. Tebbetts teaches English composition and the introductory literature course every year. For English majors he teaches 20th & 21st-Century American literature, culminating in a senior seminar on William Faulkner, acclaimed around the world as America's greatest novelist. He's also famous for his course in Advanced Composition; students tell him repeatedly it's the most important single course they've taken at Lyon.

Scholarship: Dr. T. publishes a lot of scholarship in his field, with over forty articles in college journals and books, most of them on the American writers he loves to teach--Willa Cather, Sherwood Anderson, Edith Wharton, Robert Frost, Cormac McCarthy, and of course Faulkner--lots of them on Faulkner! Each summer he leads "Teaching Faulkner" sessions at the annual Faulkner and Yoknapatawpha Conference at Ole Miss, and he recently edited a special issue of the international Faulkner Journal devoted to how today’s novels interact with Faulkner’s

Awards: Lyon's students have named Dr. T. the college's Teacher of the Year five times. He has won Lyon's Lamar Williamson Prize for Excellence in Teaching. He's been named Professor of the Year for the state of Arkansas by the Carnegie Foundation and the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education.

Extracurriculars: Dr. T. is a co-sponsor of Lyon's chapter of Alpha Chi National Scholarship Honor Society and travels with students every year to its regional and national conventions. He has been elected three times to Alpha Chi's governing board, its National Council. He also advises Lyon's award-winning chapter of the Kappa Sigma Fraternity, which holds receptions at his home every semester. The national fraternity gave him its John G. Tower Distinguished Alumnus Award in 1996.

Out in Town: Dr. T. believes we're going to live in a world as good as we're willing to make it. So he's involved in a lot of activities. Here's a sample:

·    Historic Preservation. Dr. T. has been president of the Batesville Preservation Association three times and has co-authored a book on Batesville's historic homes. He's hands-on, too, having restored three different houses in the historic district. If you ever need to know how to hang and finish drywall, he can teach you.

·     His Church.  Dr. T has taught Sunday School to high-schoolers and adults and has served as deacon & trustee.

·     Developmental Disabilities.  Dr. T. has chaired the Arkansas Governor's Developmental Disabilities Council, which plans services and advocates for community living for people with disabilities.

·     Family Violence Prevention. He's been Board President of Family Violence Prevention, Inc., and helped get grants for rehabbing its shelter, Safe Haven.

·     Journalism. For ten years he wrote a column called "Here and Now" that appeared bi-weekly in the Batesville Daily Guard.

Dr. T. has been named Citizen of the Year in Batesville and Parent of the Year for the State of Arkansas.

When he takes time for himself, Dr. T. is an avid reader of contemporary fiction, especially by Southern writers from Lee Smith to Cormac McCarthy and some contemporary British novelists like Graham Swift, Ian McEwan, and Nick Hornby.



Virginia Wray

W.C. Brown Jr., Professor
of English
Dean of the Faculty

Teaching: In addition to English composition, Dr. Wray teaches a senior seminar on the celebrated 20th-Century novelist and short-story writer Flannery O'Connor. She also teaches a popular course on the history of the English language and its many dialects.

Scholarship: Dr. Wray does a lot of work on O'Connor, presenting papers at professional conferences almost every year and publishing in scholarly journals like Renascence and the Flannery O'Connor Bulletin. She is past editor of the O'Connor newsletter Cheers! and has served as president of the national Flannery O'Connor Society. She recently taught at a summer seminar on O'Connor funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Awards: Dr. Wray has won Lyon's most distinguished teaching award, the Lamar Williamson Prize for Excellence in Teaching.

Extracurriculars: Dr. Wray was instrumental in bringing a chapter of the national service honor society Mortar Board to Lyon and served several years as sponsor.

Out in Town: Dr. Wray looks for ways to help the vulnerable. She has tutored in Batesville's adult literacy program, and she's been a Board member at Family Violence Prevention, leading a drive to retire the debt on the organization's shelter, Safe Haven. When she takes some personal time, Dr. Wray likes hiking in the Ozark mountains and fly-fishing the Ozark streams.




Helen Robbins

Teaching: In addition to English composition, Dr. Robbins teaches British literature, specializing in 19th-Century fiction. She also teaches two special courses of the department, our Film course and our Critical Theory course. Dr. Robbins also has directed Lyon's Nichols International Travel Program, coordinating courses that have taken students to England, Ireland, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Greece, Mexico, and Belize. She herself has led several walking tours of England.

Scholarship: Dr. Robbins is interested in feminist criticism, especially when it has the kind of psychological insights provided by theorists like Jacques Lacan and Julia Kristeva. She has published on film, one of her personal as well as academic interests, as well as on Charlotte Bronte.

Awards: Dr. Robbins' students and colleagues are proud of her having been named 2001 Arkansas Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation and the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education. The Council selects its annual Professors of the Year largely on the basis of letters from colleagues and former students.

Out in Town: Like her colleagues, Dr. Robbins is a community-builder. She has worked for and led the Batesville Community Theatre, widely recognized for its excellence. She has also been a RAIN Team Member, giving support to people disabled by AIDS.



Ronald Boling

Teaching: Dr. Boling is our Shakespeare man. Well, he teaches composition, Introduction to Western Lit, Classical lit, Chaucer, and the Renaissance, too, but his heart is with the Bard. He teaches a sophomore course for general students and a senior seminar for English majors. He's rumored to be looking for ways to teach freshman and junior Shakespeare courses too.

Scholarship: So it's no surprise to learn that Dr. Boling writes a lot about Shakespeare. His essays have appeared in a number of journals, including the Shakespeare Bulletin and in Shakespeare Quarterly, and he recently presented new research at an international conference on Shakespeare held in Palermo, Italy. Dr. Boling also served as the editor of the nationally indexed literary journal Philological Review.

Extracurriculars: Dr. Boling advises Lyon's chapter of the national English honor society Sigma Tau Delta. Lyon's chapter publishes the college's magazine of literature and art, Wheelbarrow, and chooses one senior each year to honor with the Sigma Tau Delta Writing Award. Dr. Boling has also been assistant sponsor of Lyon's chapter of Alpha Chi National Scholarship Honor Society, attending its weekly lunch meetings and accompanying students to some of its conventions.

Awards: Lyon's students named Dr. Boling the 2005 Professor of the Year, citing his dedication to their success and his wonderful wit shown in the classroom and in the office alike.

Out in Town: Dr. Boling is a churchman. He has sat on its governing board, and he's a long-time, highly admired adult Sunday School teacher.




Wesley Beal

Teaching: Dr. Beal teaches English composition and American literature, specializing in modern fiction. He offers a sophomore course in detective fiction, the American literature to 1900 survey for the major, and an elective course on non-canonical fiction of the 20th century that supplements the required survey for the major. In teaching authors, periods, and genres from colonial writers to Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson and on to Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler, Dr. Beal emphasizes experimentation, hoping students will experiment with new ideas, new questions, and new writing styles—and in doing so, stretch out of their comfort zones without having to worry too much about getting it exactly "right" the first time.

Scholarship: Dr. Beal is interested in how texts represent social organization in content and form. His interest has led to articles on conspiracy films in Genre and on Blade Runner in Interdisciplinary Literary Studies. Likewise, questions of social organization were at the heart of his dissertation, which considered how the networked dynamics of modernist fiction anticipate today’s networked discourses. Dr. Beal continues the study of formal networks in modernism with articles forthcoming in Digital Humanities Quarterly, part of a special cluster of essays he is co-editing, and American Literary History. Currently, Dr. Beal is considering a book-length project to study how American moderns imagined the family as an important mechanism of social organization, beginning with an article on Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe novels.

Awards: Dr. Beal came to Lyon in 2010, having completed his dissertation at the University of Florida, where he received several honors. From 2006-09 he held a Grinter Fellowship for doctoral study, and he had a Massey Dissertation Fellowship in the summer of 2010. He won a University Writing Program Teaching Award in 2006 for his teaching of composition. And in 2008 he won the Calvin A. VanderWerf Teaching Award, given to the single highest-rated graduate teaching assistant in the University of Florida’s Graduate School.

Out in Town: Dr. Beal is setting roots in Batesville with his wife Courtney and son Reed. Like his colleagues at Lyon (and following his research interests in social organization as well as his values), he is committed to community work. He is currently working to establish a books-for-prisoners program that would bring a sense of dignity to one of America’s greatly underserved populations, and that would lead Lyon students to confront tough questions of morality and democracy.

When he has time for himself, Dr. Beal enjoys playing with his son, making barbecue, and watching and playing basketball.




Andrea Hollander Budy

Teaching: Andrea Hollander Budy is a poet. So when Lyon students sign up for Introduction to Poetry, Modern Poetry, and Creative Writing/Poetry, they get to study with a person who practices what she teaches. She's a regular writer of reviews and has published a memoir, as well, so even her freshman composition students are studying with a practitioner.

Publishing: People can claim to be writers, but if they never get published, you wonder. The only wonder with Lyon's writer in residence is how she gets published so frequently. She has turned out three chapbooks and three full books of poetry, House Without a Dreamer, The Other Life, and Woman in the Painting. In between putting together her books, she has published individual poems in journals like Shenandoah, The Georgia Review, Kenyon Review, Poetry, and many more. She recently served as editor of When She Named Fire, an anthology of contemporary poetry by American women.

Awards: Sometimes it seems as though this writer wins an award for everything she publishes. Well, not quite, but her honors are certainly many. House Without a Dreamer won the prestigious Nicholas Roerich Poetry Prize, and her honors for the last couple of years include the D. H. Lawrence Fellowship, the Ellipsis Poetry Prize, the Pushcart Prize for memoir, and two poetry fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the only Arkansas poet to win such national recognition.

Extracurriculars: Budy meets often with aspiring student writers and hosts a public reading in which they present their work. In addition she directs Lyon's Visiting Writers Series, and chairs the Heasley Prize Selection Committee. At least three distinguished writers visit campus every year, giving readings, meeting with classes, and teaching writing workshops.  Recent visiting writers include novelists Lee Smith, Jill McCorkle, Bret Lott, Kent Haruf, Tim Gautreaux, and Ron Rash and poets Alice Friman, Martha Collins, and Jason Sommer.

Out in Town: Andrea Hollander Budy gives writing workshops all over the U.S. and in England and France. Read more about her, and check out her recent and forthcoming appearances by going to her website:




Course Listing

So, if you want to work with these talented people, here's what an English major looks like at Lyon. Take a look and then I'll explain part of it:

ENG 110: Introduction to Western Literature

3 credits

ENG 290, 291: Survey of British Literature I & II

6 credits

ENG 330, 331: American Literature I & II

6 credits

ENG 363: Advanced Composition

3 credits

Electives in English†

15 credits


33 credits









 (The minor, designed for students who have time for some college study of English but not enough for a major, is pretty simple:  it consists of any two courses in American lit, any two courses in English lit, and Advanced Composition.)

Okay, here's some explanation of the major:

First, it's pretty short--and that's on purpose. We want the major to be substantial enough to give students strong, useable intellectual skills, but we also want it short enough to give them plenty of electives. And our English majors have used those electives in almost every way possible--to take concentrations in education and journalism, to add minors and double majors in French and Spanish, psychology and religion and philosophy, and even chemistry, biology, and math. We believe breadth is as important as depth.

Second, it's almost half elective. That's so students can select English courses that best fit their own interests and goals. Students interested in creative writing, for example, can include three or more electives in that area, while students interested in modern literature can focus on that and students interested in traditional literary studies can load up on Chaucer, Shakespeare, and the Romantics. What you like, you might say, is what you get.

We like the major this way mainly because it's successful. We know it's successful because its graduates are successful. Here's the story:



Some of Lyon's English graduates have gone on to graduate school, entering Yale, George Washington, William & Mary, Vanderbilt, and any number of flagship state universities including Arkansas, Missouri, Southern Illinois, Tennessee, North Carolina, Florida, LSU, Texas, and Ole Miss--you name it. They've entered Masters and Ph.D. programs in English, of course, and they've become teachers and administrators in two-year and four-year colleges and universities across the country, from Washington to West Virginia, from Wisconsin to Arkansas.  They've also gone to graduate school in education, higher education, journalism, mass communications, library science, theology, and public administration. They've excelled in all those programs, typically earning higher GPA's in grad school than they did at Lyon. One grad prof in Missouri testified a couple of years ago that the three Lyon alums he was then teaching were "the best writers I've taught in twenty-five years." Another told an alum, "You write so well it hardly matters what you write about."

Some go to law school. Some enter Fayetteville's and UALR's programs, of course, and a number have won scholarships there. They also enroll in law schools across the nation--in New York, Virginia, Georgia, Mississippi, Nebraska, Texas, and Florida in recent years. Do they ever distinguish themselves! Some half of them have been making Law Review. They almost always pass the bar exam on the first try.

Some go right into professional careers and win high marks when they do. Our public school English teachers are recognized across the region; one became her county's Teacher of the Year last year. Others win fame and fortune (well, maybe not fortune) in journalism, getting positions with newspapers in Jonesboro, Paragould, Mountain Home, Mountain View, Searcy, Cherokee Village, Benton, Batesville, Jacksonville, Blytheville, and Springdale--and as far away as New Mexico and Washington, D.C. A number have moved into editorships in a year. They've worked in the Dallas area, San Antonio, Fort Smith, another in Jackson, MS. One told her advisor, "I'm 24 years old, and I'm hiring and firing people in their 40s!" And what else have they gone into--advertising and public relations in Memphis, Nashville, Little Rock; magazine editing; professional sales for companies like Alltel and Acxiom.