Sewanee Seminar Faculty

The Talks | The Faculty

Mishoe Brennecke, Art and Art History

Mishoe has been teaching at Sewanee since 1995 and is a graduate of the College. She earned her M.A. in art history from Columbia University and her Ph.D. in art history from the City University of New York. She specializes in American art and teaches courses in American, British, and French art of the late seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. Mishoe has been actively involved in the care and placement of the University’s Permanent Art Collection, and for a number of years, she has been researching the life and work of Johannes Oertel, a little-known German-American artist with interesting connections to the University of the South. She is married to retired professor Fred Croom, and they have twin boys who attend Saint Andrews Sewanee School.

Professor Martin Knoll, Earth and Environmental Systems

Martin (C’82) has been teaching geology and hydrology at Sewanee since 1993. He recently served as Project Director for the Tenneswim, an event designed to raise awareness of water quality issues along the Tennessee River. His research interests also include the movement and quality of groundwater and storm water on the Cumberland Plateau, as well as the paleoecology of inclusions in Baltic amber.

Professor Kathryn Mills, French and French Studies

Kathryn has taught at Sewanee since 1998. Her B.A. was in Comparative Literature at the University of Virginia, she earned a second B.A. in French at St. John’s College, Oxford University, and she received her Ph.D. in French literature from Yale University. She has published articles and a book on Baudelaire and Flaubert (Formal Revolution in the Work of Baudelaire and Flaubert), and has also found a way to relate her research interests to her guilty passion for mysteries by writing on connections between Baudelaire and detective fiction. Since the death of her husband in 2011, Mills has edited and published his last manuscripts of poetry. She has also written an article about him entitled “Stable Doubt,” and her current book project involves expanding that article to consider two other contemporary Anglophone poets with differing experiences of faith. She is looking forward to pursuing that project, and to consoling herself for her newly empty nest, this Fall in Paris, where she will be directing Sewanee’s Semester in Paris program.

Professor Richard O’Connor, Anthropology

A graduate of William & Mary, Richard has called Sewanee home since finishing his Ph.D. at Cornell.  His early research was on Southeast Asian urbanism and religion until he wandered into the region-making character of rice agriculture.  Over the last two decades he has taken up medical anthropology to study the biocultural character of anorexia and breastfeeding.  He has recently co-authored From Virtue to Vice:  Negotiating Anorexia and The Dance of Nurture:  Negotiating Infant Feeding and is now working with Dan Backlund to develop a website that makes his anorexia research accessible to sufferers and their families.  Together with his college sweetheart, Carolyn, he has raised three kids and has grandkids in Baltimore as well as Pueblo, Colorado.

Professor Nick Roberts, History and International and Global Studies

Nick teaches classes on the Middle East, Islam, and imperialism in the History Department and serves as the Chair of Sewanee's International and Global Studies Program. He received his B.A. in Religion from Carleton College, an M.A. in Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Chicago, and a Ph.D. in Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies/History from New York University. His scholarly interests include the history of European imperialism in the Middle East, the history of Israel/Palestine, modern Islamic movements, and Arab nationalism in the Middle East. He has received several awards including a James D. Kennedy III fellowship from Sewanee and a Fulbright fellowship to conduct research in Israel. The author of several articles on British Mandate Palestine, his most recent work is Islam Under the Palestine Mandate: Colonialism and the Supreme Muslim Council (New York: I.B.Tauris, 2017), which analyzes the controversial establishment of the Supreme Muslim Council (SMC) in British Palestine and considers the politicization of the council under its infamous president, Hajj Amin al-Husayni. 

with student

Professor Dan Backlund, Theatre Arts, Director of the Sewanee Summer Seminar

Dan is beginning his thirtieth year as a Professor of Theatre Arts at Sewanee where he teaches scenic design, lighting design, scenic painting, construction, CAD, model making, Asian theatre and scuba diving. Since 1976, Dan has worked professionally as a designer, scenic artist, and member of the production staff for more than 550 projects in nineteen states and two countries creating scenery, lighting, and environmental designs for theatre, dance, opera, television, special events, live concerts, designed public space murals, museum, library, and restaurant environments, as well as residential, commercial, and other public spaces. Dan received his undergraduate training at Bradley University in Illinois, and received his Master of Fine Arts from the North Carolina School of the Arts. Dan also serves on the Franklin County Rescue Squad, and as a State Instructor for Dive Rescue and Rural Search and Rescue classes. He also is a Flight and Instrument Instructor (Airplane), a Master Scuba Diving Instructor, and is certified as a Master Underwater Criminal Investigator.