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Excellence in Teaching

Dr. Celeste McMaster

Associate Professor Dr. Celeste McMaster joined Charleston Southern University’s Department of English in 2009.  She specializes in 19th century British literature, with secondary emphases in 20th century British literature and Creative Writing. Dr. McMaster earned her PhD from the University of South Carolina, her MA in English from East Carolina University, and her BA in English from the University of Arkansas in Little Rock. Her main areas of interest include Victorian Literature, Romantic Literature, Contemporary Literature, and Creative Writing.

Prior to working at CSU, Dr. McMaster taught for one year at the University of South Carolina, where she earned her PhD.  Dr. McMaster chose to work at CSU because, fortunately, an opportunity opened up right at the moment she needed a job.  Also, though, she had always wanted to work at a smaller private college where it seemed easier to foster relationships.

In her courses, Dr. McMaster attempts to cultivate students’ awareness of larger literary issues by teaching them to become good close readers, critical thinkers, and careful writers.  In order to help students make connections between literature and their own lives, she encourages journaling prior to class discussions.  Dr. McMaster occasionally incorporates creative as well as analytical writing, so that students can better appreciate the processes, structures, and styles of the works they study. 

When asked what information about herself students might not know, she said, “Lots!  I actually had a tough time, early on, even deciding on a major.  For a couple of years I was a dance major and had a dance scholarship at a private college in Shreveport, Louisiana.”  It was there I met Dr. Earle Labor, who first asked me why I wasn’t an English major.

When questioned about the mentors who most influenced her teaching, she said, “I have been blessed to have had so many extraordinary English teachers, from my high school teacher, June Johnson, whose knowledge astounded me and who demanded high-quality work, yet who believed in my potential, through my gifted, dynamic English professors at UALR.  At ECU, Dr. Pat Bizarro gave me courage in creative writing and in teaching.  All my USC professors, particularly in my area, prepared me to teach in my field.  My brilliant dissertation director, Rebecca Stern, whose faithful support in life and in work has seen me through, is someone whose friendship and advice I treasure.  Though I haven’t met her, Mary Rose O’Reilly’s books on teaching have had a profound impact on my teaching.

In addition to teaching at CSU, Dr. McMaster is a faculty advisor to Sefer, CSU's student literary magazine, is a member of the Committee on Excellence in Teaching, co-chairs the committee’s “What Works for Me” series, and is a member of Faculty Senate.  Her activities outside the classroom intersect with her teaching. She tutors for Trident Literacy and is a guest speaker for the John’s Island Library and other small literary groups in the Lowcountry.  Dr. McMaster resides with her husband, Jason, in Charleston, South Carolina.  She also enjoys writing fiction and poetry, yoga, dancing, trying new music venues and restaurants, and cooking.

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