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Character

Cougar Query: "BYU’s mission and people make it wonderful; there’s no place quite like it."

Name: Matthew Wickman
BYU employee since: 2000

My job at BYU is… professor of English and director of the Humanities Center, an institute for research in the areas of language, literature, culture and philosophy.

Currently I’m working on… well, it’s December, so not my tan. (Actually, it’s never my tan.) I’m completing a co-edited volume about the Scottish novelist Walter Scott and have three books about spirituality in the works: a memoir, an academic study and a short book for a general Church readership.

I’m currently reading… two books on Christianity and race by the theologian Willie James Jennings, articles from four academic journals, a Virginia Woolf novel, a volume of poems by the Scottish poet Kenneth White and a book of philosophy. And finishing none of them.

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My mission ...changed the way I view literature because... it opened my mind to the depth and mystery of the human condition and of the stories we tell about ourselves.

When I tell people I work for BYU, they often say… “Are you Mormon?” And, since President Nelson has discouraged use of that word, I can honestly answer “No.” (But the conversation rarely stops there.)

The best advice I’ve ever got about teaching is… to remember that nobody goes into university teaching because they love teaching, they go into it because they love the subject they’re studying. I don’t think that’s true, but it’s made me a more studious teacher.

My favorite spot on campus is… the library because I love its atmosphere, what it represents and what I find there.

I chose to come to BYU because... actually, it’s more interesting to reflect on why I’ve stayed, and the answer isn’t the mint brownies. BYU’s mission and people make it wonderful; there’s no place quite like it.

My most embarrassing moment was when… you know, even conjuring that memory … or maybe that one … or that other one … is damaging my sense of well-being.

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