Joe Skerrett joined the University of Massachusetts English department in 1973 where he taught courses in African American Literature, Multi-Ethnic Literature and courses in the American studies program which he chaired for a time. He was the author of several books, most recently the widely-used, Literature, Race and Ethnicity: Contesting American Identities (Longmans). He was an authority on the writer James Purdy. He also published numerous scholarly articles and delivered many presentations at professional conferences.
I applied to the MFA program because I wanted to write, but like many people, I wasn’t getting anywhere on my own. Going back to graduate school for the second time in a completely different discipline was a major decision, but one that felt necessary in order to bring my desire to write into balance with my desire to help others.
Jim Freeman, who retired last spring, was a member of our department for forty-seven years. An accomplished classicist, he translated numerous works from Greek and Latin and regularly taught a popular graduate course on classical influences on English literature. His research and teaching took him to several international venues, in Italy, Switzerland, Singapore, Ireland, Spain, and the Netherlands.
As a cataloguer in the curatorial department of Winterthur Museum in Delaware, I specialize in textile and costume history, but am currently responsible for researching the museum’s collection of several thousand hand tools—woodworking, blacksmithing, etc.—which date from 1720 to 1940.