Professor Profile: Lecturer Dennis Etzel Jr.

 Lecturer Dennis Etzel, Jr., English department, will do a show at the First Friday Art Walk Mar. 1 in North Topeka. Etzel started a new class in conjunction with assistant professor Jericho Hockett called the Psychology in poetics. 

Lecturer Dennis Etzel Jr. is one of several English educators at Washburn University. He is a versatile teacher, always ready to try something new. Etzel has taught several different English classes since his start at the university in 2004. From poetry writing, sci-fi literature, non-fiction writing and fantasy writing and film appreciation classes, Etzel is extremely well-rounded.

“I love teaching,” Etzel said. “I love writing as well, but teaching is something that I have truly enjoyed.”

Currently, he is teaching a hybrid class along with psychology assistant professor, Jericho Hockett, called the Psychology of Poetics, which encourages students to learn about the psychology of your mind and body in connection with writing, specifically targeting poetry. The class is at 1 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Etzel and Hockett are more than happy to let students come in and observe the lessons, because there will also be guests coming in to speak, such as the Kansas poet laureate, who will be coming to speak Feb. 1.  

Recently returning from sabbatical, Etzel is refreshed and ready to get back to teaching.

“Sabbatical comes from the world sabbath, which has religious connotations, and has something to do with things being finished every seven years, which is what sabbaticals are,” Etzel said.

Every seven years that someone is a teacher, they can apply, or propose, for a sabbatical.

With that said, the sabbatical is not a work-free vacation. Once an educator has applies, they have to propose an action that will have to show their progress upon their return.

Etzel is excited to show the fruits of his labor at the Art Walk from 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. March 1 in North Topeka. He partnered with local artist, Barbara Waterman-Peters, who collaborated with him to talk about how times changes.  

Etzel would like to create a class with an art professor to compare and combine art with text, as well as about the art of typography, along with things like cutting-edge and brand new things like flash poetry. He is also interested in combining a writing class with a programming class to see the ways that poetry and coding interact.  

A piece of advice he has for aspiring writers and poets is to get a support group that will motivate you to get your work done, because having a person wait for you to complete your work so they can read over it is great motivation. Another thing Etzel suggested is to set yourself up to submit things. There is a website and an app where aspiring writers can submit their work. It is called, and it is easy to create a dropbox and submit your work quickly and efficiently to multiple places.  

Dillan Hunter, junior computer science major, has heard positive things about the professor and many peers have recommended his classes.

“Dr. Etzel seems like a good teacher. I have never had him before, but I have several friends who are English writing majors that recommend him,” said Hunter. “He seems to be creative enough to make classes interesting, even if you aren’t an English or writing major.”