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Donald Riggs, PhD

Donald Riggs, PhD

Teaching Professor of English
Department of English and Philosophy
Office: 5058 MacAlister Hall

Additional Sites:


  • PhD, Comparative Literature, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, 1982
  • MA, English-Creative Writing, Temple University, 1997
  • MA, Comparative Literature, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, 1977

Curriculum Vitae:

Download (PDF)

Research Interests:

  • Wonder
  • Mystery
  • Clarity
  • Relevance
  • Communication


Ever since I discovered The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien in my local library in 4th grade, I have been drawn to the Marvelous in narrative, encounters with dragons and wizards and, in more modern form, fictional scientists who have predicted what masses of humanity are in the process of doing. Fantasy, Science Fiction, and poetry have all opened portals to worlds beyond our own that nonetheless shed light on what we are doing in our reality.

I studied Medieval literature in graduate school, with French (modern and medieval), Medieval Latin, and English my official languages. I have taught Tolkien, Game of Thrones, and related works of literature as well as the films adapted from the books.

In my first-year composition courses, I have brought to bear this awareness and encouraged students to relate their own experiences with the various stages of the archetypal Quest Narrative, including their experience with coming to awareness of a sense of purpose and awakening of particular individual skills and drives.

To this end, I often will show my students reviews I have written for an online publication titled The Future Fire to demonstrate aspects of what writing about other pieces of writing involves, such as giving the basic events in the reviewed book, film, game, etc. enough for the reader to see what’s going on but not give any spoilers.

In addition, I write a 14-line poem every morning as an exercise in imagination.