March 19, 2004
University of Maine at Fort Kent assistant professor of English, Joseph Becker, recently had four biographical articles published in The Dictionary of Literary Biography: 1914-2000.
The Dictionary contains a collection of short biographical entries indicating what literary works influence the works and ideas of a variety of 20th century personalities in fields such as writing, art, music, politics, business, technology, and popular culture. In this publication 156 contributors from 19 countries examined the reading habits of 385 of the Western world's great cultural figures.
The work is a continuation of the research begun with Biographical Dictionary of Literary Influences: The Nineteenth Century, 1800-1914 (Greenwood Press, 2001) in which an international team of scholars examined the reading habits of 271 men and women who played a prominent role in shaping Western culture.
Becker wrote articles on Chinua Achebe, a Nigerian novelist who wrote Things Fall Apart (1958), which was his most famous and enduring work; Albert Camus, French Nobel winning novelist, dramatist who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1957 and continued to write until his life was cut short by an automobile accident in Paris in 1960.
He also wrote biographical articles on Aimé Césaire, a poet, writer who was born in Martinique, and Theodore "Dr. Seuss" Geisel, a children's author and illustrator.
Becker became involved in the project while he was finishing his Ph.D. at the University of Arkansas in 2002. The English Department chair sent around an email from the book's editor, John Powell, requesting submissions.
"I contacted him and chose three authors from a list he provided me," said Becker. "Powell contacted me after I had completed work on my first three articles and asked if I could do an entry on the French author, Albert Camus. Creating the article on Camus proved interesting as I had to complete it before the publisher's deadline which was just five days later."
Becker scoured the Internet and managed to complete the article with two days to spare. His experience indicates how information technology and the Internet have revolutionized scholarly research.
"I wouldn't have been able to complete a research project on such short notice just a dozen years ago," said Becker.
Before joining the University of Maine at Fort Kent campus, Becker was an instructor at Central Virginia Community College in Lynchburg. He also instructed at Northwest Arkansas Community College in Bentonville; University of Arkansas in Fayetteville; Tri-County Technical College in South Carolina and Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte, North Carolina. He also taught online for Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester, New Hampshire.
Becker received his Ph.D. in comparative literature from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, Arkansas in 2002, where he specialized in European romanticism. He plans to expand his dissertation into a book and explore romantic myths and archetypes.
He earned an M.A. in comparative literature in 1999, an M.A. and B.A. in English literature from Winthrop University in Rock Hill, South Carolina in 1990 and 1988.
He is a member of the American Comparative Literature Association; the Modern Language Association; Omicron Delta Kappa, National Leadership Honor Society; and Sigma Tau Delta, English Honor Society.