Dr. Jake Andrews, New Staff Member Overview

Giving a warm, Whitworth welcome to one of the newest additions to the Whitworth English department:


Dr. Jake Andrews,
Starting out at Troy State (now called Troy) because he received a scholarship from opportunity, and like many other cases, because parents want us to go to certain colleges for any number of reasons. Dr. Andrews had an idea of what he wanted to do, and he wanted to major in English. He’s a lover of books and stories, the characters, and the act of reading; getting lost in other worlds and escaping reality. Because of his love for books, the lack of an English degree at Troy, and because he didn’t want to be a Journalist, Dr. Andrews transferred to the University of Alabama some time into his sophomore year. From then, he was working full time in the day as he was a full-time student at night, returning to the day-student schedule at Alabama. He was actively paving his own way for his future through the hard work and dedication, which earned him his undergraduate degree in English and a minor in creative writing starting him on the adventures and journey of his life.
From University of Alabama, he took the opportunity to attend seminary in Birmingham, Alabama, because, as he said, he was a “pony-tail having, goatee having, Birkenstock wearing” youth intern in college. He led worship and was a worship singer for the campus ministry, becoming the youth director for 9 months of seminary. While Dr. Andrews was in seminary, he was given the opportunity to go to the UK for four weeks studying the English Reformation, when his wife and he decided they wanted to live in Britain. Someone had given Dr. Andrews the advice to apply for grad school in Scotland, and to major in theology and interpretation instead of majoring in the New Testament, which at the time he wasn’t finding very interesting as a path of study. He published his dissertation, Hermeneutics and the Church, and spent four years teaching and researching theology at the Universities of St. Andrews and Cambridge.
Dr. Andrews became an English professor because creative writing and literature gave him the opportunity to explore his faith through writing. He has always been a writer, and he can continue this theological pursuit through fiction. The draft of one of his fiction pieces got him into the Iowa Writer’s Workshop. Leaving England, he began his next chapter of life in Iowa, where he finished a novel and received an honorable mention award and began teaching English and creative writing as a lecturer for Iowa State.

So why did Dr. Andrews transition from Theology into English?
He is still very wise in the Theological aspect of his education, an ordained deacon in the Episcopal church. Dr. Andrews loves reading and writing. He didn’t just pick one, he brought the two together! Theology and English are two parts to the same identity, blending them together and boosting more interest, exploration of one by using the other. Any student interested in this different way of viewing faith, or that wants to try this way of approaching faith and discovery, should feel free and confident to reach out to Dr. Andrews. He is always willing and ready to have a conversation about either topic of fiction writing, or about Theological texts and understanding. He really is a Jack of Many Trades, a very wise and well-educated individual that the Whitworth English department is proud to welcome!

New Faculty Overview

Give a warm Whitworth welcome to a new faculty member:
Dr. Courtney C. Barajas!
After high school Dr. Barajas left her family and home in Texas to study at University of Arizona because she received a wonderful scholarship opportunity. At U of A, she earned her B.A. in English and Creative Writing. Dr. Barajas entered the Old English literature program of the University of Arizona, thinking that the Old English was Shakespearian literature, and because of this, she decided to pursue the Medieval English as her chosen major. The Old English course that she was enrolled in for her first Medieval class was the hardest class she says she has ever taken, and she loved it! Crazy, the class around her was about 30 students and within a few weeks there were only about 6 students left! She already knew that she wanted to be an English teacher, she wanted to teach at the college level, and this class made her realize that she wanted to continue pursuing this program and teach the aspects of Medieval literature that are both challenging and thought provoking.
Once she finished her undergrad degree, (which she completed a year early), she went straight into graduate school; the University of Texas. A familiar place where her family was educated, a nice return home! After five years she earned her Ph.D. and an M.A. in English at University of Texas at Austin. Six years later, taking an extra year at University of Texas she was given the opportunity to be a professor as a “postdoctoral lecturer” for the English department there! And, now she has received the opportunity to be employed at Whitworth University in the English department, where she once again, left her family to pursue her dreams and reach her goals in educating young minds about the importance and impact of Medieval literatures and worldviews.
Dr. Barajas is a very charismatic, intelligent, and connecting person, looking only to share the wonders of Medieval literature that she found so compelling herself. She is very interested in the world today, the current events, and what other people see and think. Using her degree to not only teach curious students about the past values, but using those values to look at the world from a different angle, and learn about the world today, how we handle the current events, and our responses to concepts that challenge us as a community. Students more interested in this perspective should feel free to reach out to Dr. Barajas because she fits right in with the kindness and courtesy of the Whitworth English department, and their goal to assist students with any pressing questions or uncertainties!
• Fun Fact about Dr. Barajas: she loves cacti! She has 10 cacti total, her favorite being named Frida, after Frida Kahlo. She packed all her lovely plants from Texas in a milk crate in the back of her car. (She was happy to drive them up because the moving truck wouldn’t haul live plants, and she couldn’t figure out how to sneak them onboard).
• Fun Fact: The professor that educated Dr. Barajas on Medieval literature was a student of, none other than, Tolkien himself!

MEMS Minor!

Mission statement: The Medieval and Early Modern Studies (MEMS) minor provides students with an intellectual platform for articulating complex connections among the histories, literatures, and cultures of a crucial era in global history. Courses in the minor explore cultural change in the medieval and early modern worlds (from the fall of Rome in 450 CE to about 1800), tracing the influences of various disciplines on past and current methods of inquiry. A Central goal of the minor is to acknowledge differences and continuities between the medieval and modern worlds and civilizations.

Mems poster

Dr. Barajas is in charge of the MEMS Minor starting this year. For her, the MEMS Minor is more than just looking into the past. Learning about Medieval and early Modern cultures and the way we use culture today make for interesting and important understandings. The Medieval era isn’t so different from today, analyzing conflict then will aid us to understand conflict now, through their use of literature and history. Any problem that can be viewed today, any concern, global or other, has more than likely happened before and the MEMS minor will bring some of those concerns to the table; e.g. Global warming, gender (trans, roles, values), government, etc. Looking at “how they handled/addressed the issue” in the past can help model the conversation for “How could we? What could we do?” Dr. Barajas calls it “Looking to the past to find answers for the present”, looking at the continuity rather than just the differences. Forget everything you thought you know about the Medieval era, whether that be Game of Thrones, Eragon, Lord of the Rings, plague, death, “end of the world” type of stuff, the Medieval era and its history can be whatever you want it to be; women, ethics, myths, love, art, and more!

(For more information about the MEMS minor and its requirements, contact Dr. Courtney Barajas in the English department or Dr. Corliss Slack in the history department!)

NW Undergrad Conference in Humanities by Dr. Bert Emerson

English and History students at The Northwest Undergraduate Conference in the Humanities

On Saturday, 3 November 2018, seven English majors and four History majors presented papers at the Northwest Undergraduate Conference in the Humanities, hosted by North Idaho College in Couer d’Alene, ID. All eleven Whitworth students did an outstanding job and represented Whitworth extremely well. Two senior English majors, Katie Lacayo and Sarah Haman, who submitted collections of poetry, were among 18 nominees for Awards. Adi McNally, a sophomore English major, won the award for Best Overall Conference Paper.

A complete list of Whitworth students presenting creative and/or critical work at the conference:


English Majors
Sarah Haman, “Poems of Confession”
Katie Lacayo, “Missing Home”
Gabriel Meek, Poems on Family”

short stories and creative non-fiction
Chloe Taton, “Raving”
Melissa Voss, “I Am Breathing”

critical essays
Emily Hanson, “Irrational versus Rational Fear: IT through the Dramatist Pentad”
Adi McNally, ““Gender-Neutral Language in Christian Universities”

History Majors
Alex Fergus, “Indian Trade Gun: The Most Significant Firearm of Early 19th-Century America:
Rachel Murray, “Martin Luther King, Jr.: Transition from Silence to Outcry
Khristian Paul, “The Disunited Front”
Pedro Tomazzelli, “The Forgotten Leader of the Civil Rights Movement”


Westminster Round presents: Poetry and Pie!

Students and staff, English majors/minors and friends! Thursday, November 15th in the Mind and Hearth the annual Westminster Round Poetry and Pie event is HAPPENING! Bring your best poetry, your appetite, and your support at 7pm! (There will be pie, the pie is not a lie).

We hope that you can make it, and we hope to hear some lovely poetry and enjoy some delicious pie in good company!

Poetry and Pie Poster

Westminster Round Harvest Party!

Westminster Round is having their harvest party Friday, October 19th at 7:30 pm! The hostess being Emily Hanson!! The harvest party will be at her house that evening. There will be chili served along with refreshments. The entertainment for the evening will be a spooky reading followed by spooky, harvest BINGO! If you’re interested in Westminster round, chili, or spooky games and stories, or all of the above, Emily Hanson and the Westminster Round encourage you to stop by Friday night and check it out!

Address is posted, if you have questions feel free to contact Emily Hanson for more information at ehanson20@my.whitworth.edu