Kevin Young: Not Your Traditional English Professor

As my conversation with Dr. Young developed, I could see his brilliance shine through. Usually, when one thinks about an English professor they think of a person who has had various forms of studies in that field. But this is not the case with Dr. Young as the multiple degrees that he has earned are not solely focused in the field of English.

Dr. Young brings a great amount of knowledge to ASU with a Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy, a Master’s Degree in English, and a Ph.D. in History. The studies of these degrees are very different from each other but when combining them together the results can be unique. For example, Dr. Young can research something in History, look at it from a philosophical view, and then use English to convey his thoughts. I found this to be very interesting because he can approach topics in many ways. As we were discussing this, Dr. Young shared with me a quote from Herman Hesse who noted,

“[an individual] represents the unique, the very special and always significant and remarkable point at which the world’s phenomena intersect, only once in this way and never again."

In other words, one person's life story sheds a unique light on the world in which that person lived. This approach informs his research, as we can see in his dissertation, "The World of Broadus Miller: Homicide, Lynching, and Outlawry in Early Twentieth-Century North and South Carolina," which he is currently revising for book publication. His research concerns a murder case from the 1920s. In this case, he uses the background history and eventual fate of the accused killer as an underlying narrative thread to examine a number of interrelated topics in race relations and criminal justice during the early twentieth century.

Returning to Dr. Young’s own life, he graduated with his Master’s Degree from Boone, and after getting his Ph.D. at the University of Georgia, he had the Boonerang effect, which is when people who have lived in Boone return after being away for some time.

Having already taught writing as an English Graduate student during his time in Boone, he grew to love and enjoy Boone as a special place. Even though Boone is a small town, Dr. Young finds the open and friendly atmosphere at Boone very warm. Like everybody else, COVID-19 has provided him some benefits along with some drawbacks. It is a great thing that Dr. Young does not have to spend an average of three hours a day commuting to Boone from a nearby town in the mountains, but the downside is not physically being in Boone. As a result, he is teaching four sections of RC 1000 online this semester.

Teaching online only has been challenging but also interesting for Dr. Young. The challenging part of teaching online is the vast amount of work a professor has to do, compared to the workload of a seated class. He discovered that online teaching is not just about learning online technology, but also teaching in a different format and creating content by using various applications or software. While Dr. Young does not have to commute every day to Boone anymore, he misses the classroom atmosphere and the physical interaction with people face to face.

Credits: Written by Jason Xiong, photo supplied by Kevin Young.

Published: Oct 19, 2020 11:07am