Nancy E. Arnesen

Nancy Arnesen, English professor

Professor of English

At North Park Since: 1986

The question of why anyone should study literature is one that Professor Nancy Arnesen takes seriously and to which she has devoted significant research and conversation. She also thinks carefully about the challenges many people see in finding careers with liberal arts degrees. “There is not always a straight line between undergraduate major and post-college life,” she says. “This need not be a negative—in fact, it is arguably a great strength.”

“The English major opens many doors, including doors one might not even have imagined,” she says. In her courses, readers encounter life’s biggest dilemmas through the work of ancient and modern authors, a practice that creates both safety and challenge for students considering their own place in the world. Professor Arnesen teaches her students that the study of English literature is not only about reading texts, but also about discerning points of intersection between the early modern texts and matters of contemporary culture and faith.

“As a professor, I see myself as a senior reader and learner,” says Professor Arnesen. “I enjoy the 'give and take' of the classroom; the endless points of connection, surprise, concern, or delight that my students and I discover in texts; and the privilege of being a presence, at least for a time, in my students’ lives.”

Professor Arnesen’s teaching and research interests span a wide swath of literature and related disciplines, including Shakespeare, Early Modern English literature, Milton, Spenser, feminist approaches to literature, and neuroscience and literature. She is grateful for the community of learners at North Park that helps to foster such wide interests in faculty and students. “I find the life of the academic community at North Park to be a constant parade of interesting and thought-provoking ideas, events, and opportunities,” she says.


  • PhD, English, Northwestern University
  • MA, English, Northern Illinois University
  • BA, Literature, Wheaton College

"As a professor, I see myself as a senior reader and learner."