Christopher Nielson, Ph.D., has taught college English since 1978. Before arriving at Drexel in 2001, he served as President of the Pennsylvania College English Association, founded and edited an in-house literary journal, directed a first-year composition program, held a visiting professorship at Greifswald University, Germany, judged the annual Shakespeare contest for the English-Speaking Union, and wrote the Shakespeare questions for the Hi-Q academic quiz competition. He refereed submissions on Shakespeare for Pennsylvania English and has articles in Renaissance Quarterly, Explicator, Indiana English, and Writing Centered. Prior to his academic career, Nielson obtained Conscientious Objector status from the Selective Service during the Vietnam War, and in 1974 he thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail.
Nielson’s commitment to the study of literature embodies a vast array of courses, from Greco-Roman to modern periods, including “Literature of War” for ENGL 103. But the Middle Ages and Renaissance are his passion and areas of expertise, especially Shakespeare studies. He employs the critical approaches of feminist, psychological, cultural, and historical theories, and he further examines how the plays have been reinvented in popular culture. He brings a broad range of professional experience to the field: Study Guides on Shakespeare for Hedgerow Theatre where he serves as Shakespearean dramaturg, post-performance lectures in Philadelphia and suburban theaters, podcasts, seminars, and contributions to local theaters’ Shakespeare education programs. Additionally, he has built sets, created lighting designs, and acted in summer-stock theater. In the classroom, students perform scenes to deepen their understanding of both the play and the complexity of staging. To that end, he encourages students to attend local Shakespeare productions.
In Drexel’s First-Year Writing Program, Nielson embraces learner-centered pedagogy to create a stimulating and comfortable learning environment in which students are teaching one another and gaining self-esteem as writers. He induces them to see that writing well is empowerment.
Dr. Nielson served as Assistant Department Head (2014-18) and Director of Programs in English (2016-18).