English department welcome Melanie Burdick

A new face is being seen around the halls of Morgan Hall and at the front of classrooms since the Washburn University Department of English has added a new member to their faculty.

Melanie Burdick comes to Washburn as a new professor this semester, teaching two courses: Freshman Composition and Advanced Composition.

“Professor Burdick brings positive energy and new ideas to our composition program,” said Sarah Smarsh, Washburn English professor. “Plus, she’s a very friendly presence with a great laugh.”

Burdick was born in California, but grew up in Kansas City, Mo. She received her Master in English at the University of Missouri and achieved her Ph.D in English education from the University of Kansas.

“Ever since I can remember, I loved to read and write,” said Burdick. “It always just felt natural to study English.”

Currently, on Burdick’s bedside table, you might find some poetry by Dean Young or perhaps a Jane Austen novel, but she says that if she had to choose, she would consider Willa Cather and Mark Twain to be two of her favorite authors.

“I especially like Twain’s later work,” said Burdick.

When it comes to academics, Burdick likes to focus on the overlap between the creative and the more formal types of writing. She said that she is interested in the way that different genres of writing change the way we think and how it “affects both the process of composing as well as the resulting text’s message.” For example, she says that an essayist can learn a lot from a poet, and vice versa.

Coming to Washburn to teach was exciting for Burdick because it combines two interests of hers: teaching students to write and helping to prepare students interested in teaching English someday.

When she was younger, Burdick never thought she would one day be in the professor position that she is in now, but says that it is a “happy surprise.” Some of the challenges she has had to endure being a new teacher are mainly getting used to the in’s and out’s of the institution.

“The best part of it is getting to know the wonderful students and inspiring colleagues at Washburn,” said Burdick.

Outside of school, Burdick is married and has four sons. Together they love to spend times outdoors, camping, canoeing and hiking as much as they can.

Their sons are involved in many sports and activities, but when she is free, Burdick and her husband enjoy going to art galleries and relaxing to jazz music and still finding time to tend to her garden and to read and write.

“Melanie is a great addition to the Washburn English Department,” said Tom Averill, Interim Chair of the Washburn Department of English. “Though she is new here, she has already become a key part of our faculty. She is a great asset to Washburn.”