Professor Spotlight: Deneen M. Senasi

English professor Deneen Senasi is a good example of a person ending somewhere she did not begin. She was born in Birmingham, Ala., in the same family home that she currently lives in with her husband of 22 years

She still currently lives there because her husband resides in the home while working as a professor at Birmingham Southern College

Senasi said, “He’s been very patient. He didn’t quit when I first got the job, because the position was supposed to be only for a year as a visiting professor.

Her husband is the son of her ballet teacher, both of whom are from Yugoslavia

She was also trained as a classical ballerina. During college, she taught ballerina to younger girls

Senasi interviewed for a visiting professor position at Mercer four years ago after hearing about the open position while working at the University of Tennessee as a lecturer. She came to the campus for the interview and took a tour of the grounds but did not teach a class (which is usually required of interviewing professors) because it would have interfered with finals week

After the interview she got a call from Gary Richardson, professor of English, offering her a position as she was driving home.

Senasi did not always intend to be an English professor. She actually attended college after getting married in order to get her degree in ballet performance.

She said that she became interested in English after taking a class for a general education requirement. It eventually became her major after taking several classes that she enjoyed.

Senasi currently specializes in Shakespearean and Renaissance literature, but she did not start out that way. She was actually interested in Victorian literature. However, she wrote a paper in which she called a Renaissance writer “stupid,” which her professor loved. She then won a fellowship for the paper which in turn shifted her interest to the topic.

Senasi said, “I used to work a lot of odd jobs like waitressing and retail, and sometimes I will be standing at the board or giving a lecture and think about how fortunate I am to get to talk about all this monumental and historic literature.”

When The Cluster asked Senasi what she thought her teaching style was, the only word that could come to her mind was “bananas,” which is a word Senasi uses when she wants to use an expletive or if she can’t think of a phrase while lecturing

Senasi said that she can sometimes be quite silly.

When asked about her teaching style, Senasi said, “Defamiliarization; it’s making the familiar strange. Teaching Shakespeare and Milton, I sometimes have to persuade students that it does have something to do with their lives. It introduces that the material is something I know and love, and something that my students may one day love.

Senasi is the faculty advisor for Mercer’s Shakespeare Society and Willingham Garden Society

Senasi is currently finishing a book on material culture, gender performance and the name in early and modern England.