Hendrix-Murphy Programs in Literature and Language


“Transitions: A Student/Faculty-Guided Reading and Writing Seminar”

Spring Semester 2012

“Transitions” extends the paths students began with "Journeys" and "Explorations,” courses in their first semester. This senior- and junior-level course anticipates the transition from college to graduate and professional schools, careers, and other positions of intellectually rigorous leadership.

As a culminating educational experience, “Transitions” is also an enjoyable and stimulating exercise of skills acquired at Hendrix College. Four faculty members and up to 16 students with majors in any field read, study, discuss, and write about eight works of contemporary literature, music, drama, and/or film.

Faculty select four works, and four teams of students each select another work to teach the entire class--including faculty--with the guidance of a faculty mentor. A faculty mentor will work with each team to present the work to the class. The class meets in the Murphy house Seminar Room during the spring semester from 12:10 to 1 p.m., Mondays, Wednesday, and Fridays.

Following are lists of works taught by students and faculty. The list of student works includes student team members and mentors, while the list of faculty works includes information about why they're teaching these works and about their other interests.

Student Selected Works: 

 To be announced.  

Faculty and the Works They Selected

Professor Rupert in Murphy Building  Professor Lyle Rupert, “Transitions” Coordinator and Professor of Economics and Business 

  • In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
  • Capote (DVD) directed by Bennett Miller


Professor Rupert's academic interests: I have taught in the Department of Economics and Business for 21 years. My primary teaching responsibilities include financial and managerial accounting, financial management, and business computer classes. Professionally, I have also been involved in church music over 30 years as organist and/or music director.

Professor Rupert's other interests: I enjoy participating in various activities such as golf/wallyball/basketball, working with wood, reading, and solving Sudoku and Kakuro puzzles. I also serve the community by working with non-profit organizations. I'm usually a board member (e.g. Treasurer) or provide volunteer services such as accounting, tax, payroll, and financial functions.

Dr. Pfau in the Murphy Library
 Dr. Sasha Pfau

Professor of History 

  • Oceans' Eleven (DVD) directed by Lewis Milestone (1960) and its remake, directed by Steven Soderbergh (2001)
  • The Italian Job (DVD) directed by Peter Collinson (1969) and its remake by F. Gary Gray (2003)

Dr. Pfau's academic interests: Medieval French and English history, madness, crime, witchcraft.

Dr. Pfau's other interests: Cooking, walking, traveling, and reading late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century novels.

Dr. Vernon in Murphy Building  Dr. Alex Vernon

Associate Professor of English 

Documentaries by Alex Gibney:

  •  Enron 
  •  Client 9 
  •  Taxi to the Dark Side

Dr. Vernon’s academic interests: 20th century American literature, American studies, war literature, American literature and the environment, Hemingway, Vietnam, Tarzan studies, writing.

Dr. Vernon’s other interests: family, friends, dogs, film, eating (and cooking as required), travel, reading, writing, and exercise

Dr. Sutherland in the Murphy library
Dr. Mark Sutherland

Professor of Biology 


  • The Demolished Man by Alfred Bester


Dr. Sutherland's academic interests: I am an Immunologist by specialty, a Microbiologist by training and a Cell Biologist by necessity. I’ve been a member of the Biology Department for 21 years. I have also taught Journeys and have broad interests in history, classics, music and theater.

Dr. Sutherland's other interests: My passions are numerous. I sing with two choirs, play basketball on a regular basis, read widely (especially history, science fiction/fantasy, biography), hike, and shoot nature photographs.