Introducing Bread Loaf's New Advisory Board

Bread Loaf's director and associate director have appointed a new advisory board, with the hope of bringing the group’s diverse and imaginative visions into play as the administrative team leads the school forward. The members, who likely have “Bread Loaf” tattooed on some body part (not a requirement), are profiled below. Big thanks to them for their willingness and overwhelming eagerness to serve.


John Elder

John Elder, professor emeritus of English and American studies at Middlebury College, has taught at Bread Loaf since 1982 and served as on-site director in both Alaska and New Mexico. In addition to studies of Frost, ballads, and pastoral, his signature courses have involved writing, kayaking, or botanizing along the Long Trail from Vermont to Canada, through the fjords of Southeast Alaska, or in the Adirondack High Peaks, with students returning from the wilds dirty and tired but wholly exhilarated by the unique challenges of the course. An accomplished teacher, Elder, according to one student, “could teach the yellow pages and have people think it was among the best stuff they ever read.” Elder’s most recent books, Reading the Mountains of Home, The Frog Run, and Pilgrimage to Vallombrosa, combine memoir with discussion of literature and Vermont’s environmental history. As for his impression of Bread Loaf, he writes, “Both hiking on the Long Trail with a class and sitting in a seminar’s circle under the majestic Davidson Library spruces, teaching at Bread Loaf has always been a strenuous delight. I’m so grateful for this vivid learning community.”


Andrea Lunsford

Andrea Abernethy Lunsford is the Louise Hewlett Nixon Professor of English and former director of the Program in Writing and Rhetoric at Stanford University. She has taught at every level, from seventh grade to graduate school. She first brought her extraordinary talents to Bread Loaf in 1991, serving as on-site director in Santa Fe and as acting codirector, with John Elder, in Vermont (2009), teaching courses such as Writing for Publication, the Language Wars, and the Graphic Novel and offering limitless inspiration and support to the Bread Loaf Teacher Network. Lunsford has authored or edited 20 books—most recently The Sage Handbook of Rhetorical Studies and, with Lisa Ede, Writing Together: Collaboration in Theory and Practice. When asked her thoughts on Bread Loaf, she wrote (from a semester-at-sea ship leaving Cape Town and heading towards Mauritius, with Bread Loaf peers Paul Muldoon and Victor Luftig), “Bread Loaf is not about any one person or even any group, but rather about all of us and about what we can do, collectively, to live true to the motto of the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs, the oldest African American secular organization in existence: ‘Lifting as we climb.’”


Jeff Nunokawa

Jeff Nunokawa has been a professor of English at Princeton University since, he admits, “the waning years of the Reagan Administration.” He joined the Bread Loaf faculty in 1999, offering courses on the 19th-century novel, the history of the essay, and modernity in film and literature. A “don’t miss” regular at Bread Loaf/New Mexico, he has also taught in Alaska, Mexico, North Carolina, and Vermont and participated in Bread Loaf-Andover workshops in Massachusetts. Notes one student, “He liberally sprinkles his lectures with references to politics, history, film and popular culture, giving his students a sense of the vast realms to which he, and they, can apply both curiosity and criticism.” Nunokawa’s publications include The Afterlife of Property (on Dickens and Eliot) and Tame Passions of Wilde: Styles of Manageable Desire and an intellectually and stylistically riveting blog. When asked about Bread Loaf, he replied, “Should I begin with the many beautiful hours I spent at the ‘notions’ aisle at the Juneau Safeway?” Thinking better of that start, he added, “Where everything about Bread Loaf begins and ends for me [is in] the fellowship of some of the most intellectually acute, socially committed, utterly hilarious students I have ever encountered.”


Margery Sabin

Margery Sabin is Lorraine Chiu Wang Professor of English and director of the South Asia Studies Program at Wellesley College, where she also serves as educational liaison between the English and education departments. She joined the Bread Loaf faculty in 1992; 2012 will mark her 21st consecutive summer (!) in Vermont. Her three books—English Romanticism and the French Tradition; Dialect of the Tribe: Speech and Community in Modern Fiction; and Dissenters and Mavericks: English Writing about India, 17652000—she says, “turn out to be about the same topics: cosmopolitanism in literature; transnational influences; the relationship of literature to social, political, and language communities; and the imaginations of individual writers who venture across established boundaries and borders.” She continues to bring these interests vividly into her Bread Loaf courses on Eliot, James, Joyce, fiction of empire, modern Indian prose, and (new this summer) wit and terror in Irish literature. In thinking about her 20 summers on the mountain, Sabin said, “The stimulation always provided by Bread Loaf students has kept me returning. I count on the new ideas I get for teaching and reading, plus new friendships with a variety of remarkable folks I might not otherwise come to know.”


Emma Smith

Emma Smith is a fellow and tutor in English at Hertford College, University of Oxford, and has a particular interest in the university’s work with schools and teachers. Author of The Cambridge Guide to Shakespeare, coeditor of The Cambridge Companion to English Renaissance Tragedy, and now coeditor, with Bread Loaf director Emily Bartels, of the forthcoming Marlowe in Context, Smith has helped bring Shakespeare into popular currency online, in radio broadcasts, and via public lectures. Rigorous and down-to-earth in the classroom, she has been a member of the Bread Loaf/Oxford faculty every summer since she joined the school in 2005, offering ever-popular courses on Shakespeare, tragedy, and (yes) ghosts. According to one student, “Because of Emma’s unconditional faith in our abilities, we all felt a tremendous sense of freedom to explore different ways of looking at our texts.” In accepting the appointment to the board, Smith wrote, “I’m excited at this opportunity to be more involved in Bread Loaf’s mission and development and to give a transatlantic perspective. Does this mean I will get to see Vermont? Here’s hoping.”


Val Smith

Valerie Smith is dean of the college, Woodrow Wilson Professor of Literature, and professor of English and African American studies at Princeton University. She has taught at Bread Loaf for eight summers (in New Mexico, Vermont, and North Carolina), offering courses on literature of the Civil Rights Movement, Toni Morrison, and modern American autobiography. She is revered for her adeptness at facilitating discussion within the classroom and her generosity in engaging with students outside class. As on-site director at the Asheville campus, she created important links between the curriculum and the rich history of black Asheville. A specialist in African American literature and culture, Smith is author of Self-Discovery and Authority in Afro-American Narrative and Not Just Race, Not Just Gender: Black Feminist Readings, with a book on Toni Morrison on the way. “Bread Loaf offers an unparalleled teaching and learning experience,” she writes. “Since my first Bread Loaf summer, I’ve been impressed by the enthusiasm and commitment of the students, staff, and faculty.”


Sam Swope

Sam Swope, dean of the Cullman Center Institute for Teachers at the New York Public Library, is a prolific author of children’s books, including The Araboolies of Liberty Street, which has been adapted as an opera and a musical; The Krazees, which is in the works at Paramount as a project to star Robin Williams; and Gotta Go! Gotta Go!, Swope’s favorite. He published the award-winning I Am a Pencil: A Teacher, His Kids, Their World of Stories, about his experiences teaching writing to 28 Queens public school students from 20 different countries. In the past, he has been a member of the Bread Loaf/Vermont community as a student, bookstore manager, theater manager, and renowned editor of the Crumb. He joined the Bread Loaf faculty in 2011, developing a long-sought new course (with Michele Stepto) on Writing for Children. As he says, “Bread Loaf has shaped who I am more than any other institution I’ve been part of. I can’t imagine my life without it.”


Doug Wood

Douglas Wood, MA ’97, is a program officer for the Ford Foundation’s initiatives on higher education, with a special interest in helping students from marginalized communities achieve educational success. He has been associate dean of administration and planning at Eugene Lang College of the New School for Liberal Arts, chief executive officer of the Tennessee State Board of Education, and executive director of the National Academy for Excellent Teaching (Columbia University). He brought his voice—with its passion, exuberance, and power (not to mention song)—­into Bread Loaf’s classes and community. One professor described him as the “Bread Loaf equivalent of a talk show host,” explaining that “he was the best class participant I have ever seen at the delicate art of drawing out his fellow students without losing his own distinctive sense of his personality.” According to Wood, “The focus of Bread Loaf is to enhance and improve the knowledge of teachers through a rigorous program for a community of practitioners. Classes, conversations, group study, writing, lectures, and plays all shape a professional development experience that for me was meaningful, sustaining, and long lasting.”