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Life, Literature, and the Pursuit of Knowledge:
Charles White, Writer and English Instructor

By Lindsey Gillett

Background and education

“Write with a sense of confidence and intensity,” says Charles White, Western Carolina University graduate. Since White graduated with a master’s degree in English in 2004, he has explored many facets of the field. White has been a college writing teacher, freelance writer, newspaper journalist, and an independent publisher.

Currently, White teaches at South College in Asheville while completing a second master’s degree in fine arts at Spalding University. Aside from his careerand education, White is writing a novel with excerpts that have been accepted for publication by different literary journals. In addition to his busy day, White also works on scholarly writings and book reviews. He sees writing as a daily part of his life. “Writing, for me, is an excellent way to contribute to a greater ongoing dialogue in the arts,” said White.

Influences of English

When it comes to writing novels, the major influences that he believes shaped his life and interest in English are Nathaniel Hawthorne and William Faulkner. He also finds influence in Werner Herzhog’s and Terence Malick’s films. A final source of influence and satisfaction for White comes from his “talented writer friends.”

White says WCU was able to give him a good foundation after he realized he had a lot to learn. He thinks that comprehension is only attainable when a lack of comprehension is realized.

Words of wisdom

White offers a few insightful tips for English majors. He recommends taking a course in Shakespeare, as well as one in modern or contemporary poetry. But, most importantly, White thinks that students should understand the mechanics of clean writing. “Many students leave the university with turgid and ineffective prose,” added White.

Aside from in-class learning, White thinks that learning for English majors is a never-ending adventure. He believes that “too many English majors convey an active disinterest in their own discipline.” He thinks that being an expert in your field is a must and urges students and graduates to read often and to push themselves to the outermost boundary of their ability.

“As a writer, the best moments happen between you and yourself. . . These quiet celebrations are the height of artistic satisfaction and ultimately more important than public accolades," White adds.

These profiles were created by the Karen Greenstone's English 303 class (spring 2009)
and edited for the web by Mary Adams's English 303 class (summer 2009).

Students in Mary Adams's English 303 class (fall 2009) wrote additional profiles.