Professor of English

Education

BA, Goshen College, 1983
MA, ARIZONA STATE UNIVERSITY, 1988
PHD, LOYOLA UNIVERSITY CHICAGO, 1998

Current Projects

  • “From Theory to Practice: Understanding Global Gender Issues through Service”: 2013 Mininger Faculty Scholarship Grant to work with social justice work at the grassroots level in the fall 2013. Currently, I plan to volunteer at the Corrymeela Community in Northern Ireland, supporting their peace and reconciliation work in whatever way is useful. By moving from social justice issues in the classroom to social issues in community, I hope to develop resources that can inform my teaching, my mentoring of student projects, and my own presentations on women’s issues in a global context.
  • In the spring 2014, I will be teaching “Gender in  Central America” for Whitworth University’s Costa Rica Center for three months.
  • Research on Costa Rican Women’s Movement, Gender and Global Development: 2012 Mininger Faculty Scholarship Grant, “Bringing Home the Work: Women’s Stories and Research in Costa Rica” that involved two weeks in Costa Rica and presentations at the Monteverde Institute and at CASEM, an artisan’s cooperative in Monteverde/Santa Elena, Costa Rica.
  • Faculty supervisor for Grace Parker, 2012 Maple Scholars project on Literature and Social Action: “From Literary Theory to Social Action: An Ethical Analysis of Virginia Woolf”

Current Courses

Sabbatical 2013-2014

Spring 2014, “Gender and Central America” for Whitworth University’s Costa Rica campus in Heredia, CR.

Summer term 2013

Engl 130, College Composition Online

Spring Semester 2013

Engl 204, Expository Writing

Engl 110, Literature and Writing

Fall Semester 2012

Engl 201, World Literature

Engl 307/WOST 307, Women in Literature

Recent Presentations

Costa Rica Presentations

  • “Bringing Home the Work: Women’s Stories and Research in Costa Rica,” Monteverdi Institute, Monteverde, Costa Rica, June 2012.
  • “Costa Rican Women’s Cooperatives,” presented student video at CASEM: Cooperativa Artisana de Santa Elena y Monteverde, June 2012.

“The Future of Women’s and Gender Studies at Christian Universities,” with Linda Beail, Point Loma Nazarene University, and Kristina LaCelle Peterson, Houghton College; moderated by Julia Stronks, Whitworth University. 3 April  2012.

Mennonite Church USA bi-annual convention “Bridges to Cross.” Pittsburgh, PA, July 2011.

  • Paper Presentation, “Feminism and Faith.” Women in Ministry session.
  • Co-leader with Joanna Shenk and Janie Beck. “Women in Leadership: Creating Circles of Solidarity.”

Council of Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU) Gender conference, “Changing Faces: Changing Opportunities & Campus Climates for Women & Men,” Abilene Christian University, Sept. 29-Oct. 2, 2010.

  • Paper presentation, “Riding the Waves: Navigating Women’s Studies and the Women’s Movement on a Christian College Campus”
  • Panel organizer, moderator, presenter with Bob Yoder (Campus Pastor) and Emily R. Graber (English major), “From the Classroom to the Church: Opportunities for Women in Ministry Leadership Development in Christian Higher Education”

CCCU Women’s Leadership Development Institute, Cedar Springs, WA, June 21-25, 2010.

  • Presentation, “Trends in Women’s Studies: What Christian Higher Education could Learn”

National Women’s Studies Association, Atlanta, GA, November 2009

  • Paper, “Narrating Collective Action: Chandra Mohanty’s Genealogies of Community and Noncolonized Dialogue” with Prof. Regina Shands Stoltzfus, Prof. Carolyn Schrock-Shenk, and students Rachel Halder and Elizabeth Speigle
  • Moderator, Paper sessions “Thinking, Speaking, and Working Margin to Margin” and “Negotiating the Politics of Memory”

Courses

Course Expertise

Literature:

British Literature to 1800

Shakespeare

World Literature: Postcolonial Studies

Genre Studies: History of the Novel

Victorian Novel

Humanities: Music and Literature

Expository Writing

Literature & Writing

College Composition

Communication Skills for Nurses

Women’s Studies:

Introduction to Women’s Studies

Gender and Popular Culture

Gender, Race, and Class in American Film

Women in Literature

Women and Development in Costa Rica

The Global Women’s Movement

Gender in a Global Context

Intercultural:

Costa Rican Study Service semester  (Program director, San José, Costa Rica)

Borderlands: Immigration in Context (Instructor, San Antonio/McAllen, TX)

Selected Publications

“Body and Spirit.” Timbrel: Publication of Mennonite Women USA 14.3 (May/June 2011): 7-9.

“Empowering young women through holistic teaching and learning.” Equipping: Pastoral Newsletter for MC USA March 2011. Also appeared in the Mennonite Weekly Review 11 April 2011. Online.

Book review of Sarah Klassen’s A Feast of Longing in Mennonite Quarterly Review 84.4 (October 2010).

“Cast Off Cynicism and Cast Your Vote.” Peer Review: Publication of the American Association of Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) 10.2/3 (2008): 43.

“‘Sloughing off Ribs’: Revealing The Second Sex in Julia Kasdorf’s Poetry.” Mennonite Quarterly Review, 7.4 (October 2003): 589-611.

“Katherine Anne Porter’s ‘The Grave’: Women’s Writing and Re-visioning Memory,” Journal of the Association for Research on Mothering 4.2 (Fall/Winter 2002): 51-64.

“When Flesh becomes Word: Creating Space for the Female Body in Mennonite Women’s Poetry.” Mennonite Quarterly Review, 72.4 (October 1998): 677-688.

Honors & Awards

Grants & Fellowships

Mininger Research Grant: “Bringing Home the Work,” Costa Rica, 2012

Mininger Grant: Mennonite Church USA conference presentations, 2011

Mininger Conference Grant: Women in Leadership Development Institute, 2010

Mininger Conference Grant: National Women’s Studies Conference, 2009

Center for Intercultural Teaching and Learning, Departmental Review Grant for revision of First-Year writing course, 2009

Center for Intercultural Teaching and Learning, Course Development Grant “Integrating non-Western Studies in the Humanities Music/Literature Course”, 2008-2009

Center for Intercultural Teaching and Learning, Spanish Language Study Grant, 2008

Plowshares Peace & Justice Journalism Grant: “Women and Community Development in Monteverde, Costa Rica,” 2007

Mininger Conference Grant: Transnational Feminism, Community Activism, and the Politics of Empowerment (University of Connecticut), 2007

 

Committee Work

Teacher Education Advisory Committee, 2001-2006, 2008-2013.

General Education Communication Course Development task force, 2010-2012

Academic Affairs Committee, Humanities Division Representative, 2009-2011, 2003-2006

General Education Committee, 2009-2011

Maple Scholars Interdisciplinary Research committee, 2009-2010

Foundations of Excellence (First-Year Program Review) Assessment Committee, 2009

Sexual Violence Prevention Task Force, 2008-2012

Campus Health and Wellness Committee (CHAW), 2007-2010

Lilly Grant Planning task force, 2005-2006: Assisted Goshen College Academic Dean with planning successful $12.5 million grant application for the Center for Intercultural Teaching and Learning

Oversight Committee for Space Planning, 2005-2006

Faculty Chair, 2005-2006

NCA (North Central Accreditation) Committee (2002-2005): Reviewed campus-wide assessment plans, assisted with NCA Accreditation report and team visit

Rank & Tenure Committee, 2002-2004

Assessment Committee, 1999-2006

General Education Advisory Committee, Chair, 1999-2003

Humanities Course Task Force, Chair, Spring 1999-2003

Women’s Studies Advisory Committee, 1998-2010, Chair 2001-2006 and 2008-2010

Information Technology Committee, 1997-1998

Affirmative Action Committee, 1994-1999

Library Committee, 1993-1997

Church and Community

  • Attends College Mennonite Church; member of Weavings Sunday school class; member of Discipling Commission; mentor for middle school student; helped coordinate Sister Care conference May 2012
  • Editorial Advisory representative for Mennonite Women USA board, 2011-2015
  • Presentations at Mennonite Church USA bi-annual convention “Bridges to Cross.” Pittsburgh, PA, July 2011.
  • Attended AMBS conference, “My soul rejoices in God my Savior: Mary in Anabaptist dress” March 2011
  • Coordinated gathering of Women Leaders in the Mennonite church, co-planning with Joanna Shenk, Mennonite Church USA. November 2010:

Personal Information

Beth Martin Birky has been teaching English and Women’s Studies at Goshen College since 1993.  Following graduation from Goshen College in 1983, Dr. Birky taught high school English at Christopher Mennonite High School in Lansdale, PA, until 1984. She went on to study Eighteenth-century British fiction, receiving her MA from Arizona State University and her Ph.D. from Loyola University Chicago. Her Masters thesis was editing several chapters of Tobias Smollett’s Roderick Random for her thesis director, OM Brack, Jr.’s, editing work on that novel. Her dissertation under Dr. Thomas Kaminski is titled, “Penitents or Prostitutes? Narratives of Fallen Women in Eighteenth-century English Fiction.”

During her time at Goshen College, Dr. Birky has chaired the English department (2001-2006, 2008-2012) and directed the Women’s Studies program (2001-2006, 2007-present). Dr. Birky has also held a variety of administrative positions: Writing Center Director (1996-2001), Summer Housing Coordinator (1998-2000), General Education director (1999-2003), Humanities division Co-Chair to Academic Affairs (2003-2006, 2009-2011), Faculty Chair (2005-2006), and Interim Associate Academic Dean (Spring 2007).

Dr. Birky also has program review experience, serving as an External Consultant for Whitworth University Women’s Studies program, Spokane, WA (April 2012) and for Northwestern College English Department self-study, Orange City, IA (February 2006).  She was also a member of Goshen College’s NCA (North Central Accreditation) Committee (2002-2005).