Matt Sivils

Matthew Sivils

NEWS RELEASE
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Iowa State University
www.las.iastate.edu

5-14-09

Contacts:
Matthew Sivils, English, (515) 294-2834 (sivils@iastate.edu)
Steve Jones, Liberal Arts & Sciences Communications, (515) 294-0461 (jones@iastate.edu)

English’s Matthew Sivils named the second Geoffroy Faculty Fellow at Iowa State University

AMES, Iowa – An English faculty member who uses knowledge gained from a previous career in his scholarly work has been named the next recipient of the Gregory L. and Kathleen C. Geoffroy Faculty Fellowship at Iowa State University.

Matthew Sivils, assistant professor of English, formerly worked as a wildlife biologist. What he learned working in the environmental field complements his teaching and writing in his specialties, literature of the environment and 19th century American literature.

“The fellowship came as a surprise,” said Sivils, who is in his first year at Iowa State.

The Gregory L. and Kathleen C. Geoffroy Faculty Fellowship was established by President and Mrs. Geoffroy to support the teaching and research program of an assistant professor in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Sivils’ three-year fellowship begins Aug. 15. His fellowship will be recognized at the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences’ Fall Convocation on Sept. 2.

Sivils is the second Geoffroy Faculty Fellow. Malika Jeffries-EL, assistant professor of chemistry, was named the first one in 2005.

“Matt Sivils is an excellent choice for the Gregory L. and Kathleen C. Geoffroy Faculty Fellowship,” said Michael Whiteford, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. “This award provides annual financial support to supplement the classroom and scholarly activities of an assistant professor who has shown great promise early in his or her career as a teacher and researcher. Dr. Sivils most certainly fits that description.”

Sivils holds a Bachelor of Science degree in fisheries and wildlife biology and worked as a biologist in Arkansas, Colorado and Oklahoma for four years.

“When I was a biologist, in addition to reading about my field, I also made time to read works of literature,” Sivils said. “I thought this was probably a sign, so I entered a graduate program in English.”

Sivils, who earned his Ph.D. in English at Oklahoma State University, has successfully drawn upon his experience in biology in his faculty position. He is able to add a personal insight when he teaches about the writings of well-known naturalists such as Aldo Leopold and Rachel Carson.

“I’ve been able to combine my education, what I’ve learned in the field and my personal interests in the teaching of environmental literature,” he said.

Sivils teaches both undergraduate and graduate courses on environmental literature. He also teaches in ISU's Master of Fine Arts (MFA) program in Creative Writing and Environment within the Department of English.

In addition to several articles on a variety of American literary subjects, he has published three scholarly editions of the works of writer, humorist and political activist Alexander Posey (1873-1908). Posey became an influential political spokesperson, man of letters and advocate for better conditions in the Indian Territory.

Sivils is also a textual editor for "The Writings of James Fenimore Cooper" and is at work on a critical edition of Cooper’s 1843 satirical novella, The Autobiography of a Pocket Handkerchief. He is founding co-editor of the scholarly annual, Literature in the Early American Republic.

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NOTE TO EDITORS: For a hi-res photo of Matt Sivils, contact jones@iastate.edu.