Professor Q &A: Dr. Alan E. Craven

(arts) craven (amelia reyes)

“From the hills of our oak and cedar

To the Alamo,

Voices raised will echo

As, in song, our praises flow.

Hail Alma Mater!

Through the years our loyalty will grow

The University of Texas

San Antonio”- Hail UTSA written by Dr. Alan E. Craven (1981)

Many English majors have probably seen his name next to the Shakespeare class listings, the seminar room in the English department or the Endowed Scholarship. Dr. Alan E. Craven, UTSA professor and former Dean of the College of Liberal and Fine Arts, at first did not like Shakespeare when he was an undergraduate at the University of Kansas.

When Dr. Craven was halfway through his Ph.d. at the University of Kansas, the university hired distinguished professor Charlton Hinman from the Folger Shakespeare Library. This professor was world famous for inventing the machine that allowed Shakespeare scholars to look at two identical texts for any changes in the text before the printing process.

Dr. Craven was influenced by Hinman to be not only a Shakespeare scholar but also a Shakespeare textual scholar. The Paisano sat down with Dr. Craven to talk to him about who has influenced him as a professor, his time in Europe and what drives him to keep teaching after he has retired.

Are there any other writers, poets or playwrights whom you favor?

The other two in the same period were John Donne–I love Donne’s poetry and I love Andrew Marvell’s poetry. And that’s what I thought I’d do, initially I would write on Donne or Marvell. But I didn’t because (Hinman) was so famous and he was so interesting. I found the bibliography and textual work so interesting that I didn’t look back at all once I started with (Hinman). That was the end of it as far as I was concerned, so I’ve stayed with (Shakespeare) all the way. Though I don’t do any textual writing any more, I am still interested in the textual issues around Shakespeare.

Why are there no textual-focused classes on Shakespeare? It seems like an interesting topic.

The topic is just way too theoretical and it takes so much time to try to introduce textual issues. It is a lot of fun but it is an awful lot of work at the beginning to understand why we are interested in Shakespeare’s text almost 400-years (since his death). It would be interesting to have a bunch of Shakespeareans talk and write about all the kinds of things that have happened to Shakespeare in the 400 years (since his death).

How many times have you visited England?

I have been probably 35 or 40 times because I’ve taught over there a couple of times. My wife and I go every summer to Stratford to see plays then go off and do something else—we spend every summer some place in England but always with a stop in Stratford. When I was younger, my wife and I drove around a lot, so we went all over the place. My favorite places are the Lake District, the Wordsworth country, especially a small town called Keswick. We also like Scotland a lot, so we often go there — I like to go to Edinburgh and the Highlands.

Where else have you traveled in Europe?

My wife loves Italy, so we go to Italy every so often. We have taken a cruise up the Danube, down the Rhine and a couple of cruises around the Mediterranean. My wife and I have also traveled to Egypt, Istanbul, France, Netherlands, the Slovak Republic and hopefully Scandinavia and the Czech Republic.

Do you think you would ever lead a semester abroad class?

Unfortunately, not at my age. I used to do that a couple of times but I think I’m too old to do that. Mark Bayer has had a lot of experience in England, so I’ll let him lead those classes.

Why did you pursue a career in teaching?

When I came to San Antonio, I was hired to start an English program here at UTSA in 1973. Because I was an administrator (and) I was department chair for 21 years and then I was dean for eight years, I only taught no more than one course a semester and sometimes I didn’t teach. So part of the reason why I’m eager to continue to teach now is that there were a lot of years when I wanted to teach more, but I could not because of administrative duties. I have spent a lot of years at UTSA, but I just have a lot of desire to continue to teach because I like to do it, its fun to read Shakespeare and talk about Shakespeare, so I just want to keep doing it.