Beth Martin Birky

Professor of English, WGS Director

Beth Martin Birky


  • BA, Goshen College, 1983
  • MA, Arizona State University, 1988
  • PHD, Loyola University Chicago, 1998
  • “From page to stage: Building Context for Teaching Shakespeare”: 2015 Mininger Faculty Scholarship Grant to spend two weeks in London attending plays at the New Globe Theater and the National Theater. I was able to see Shakespeare’s King John, Merchant of Venice, and As You Like It. At the National Theater, I saw Everyman and The Beaux’ Stratagem by George Farquhar. I also visited Charlotte Bronte’s home in Haworth on the Yorkshire moors.
  • “The Feminist Faithful: Connecting Faith with Feminism through Transgression and Justice”: 2014 Mininger Conference Grant to attend the National Women’s Studies Association annual conference in San Juan, Puerto Rico. I was co-chair of a session on the role of faith in feminist activism with Women’s and Gender Studies professors from other Christian colleges and universities: Dr. Linda Beail, Dr. Kelli McCoy, Ms. Heather Ross, Dr. Kara Lyons-Pardue, all from Point Loma University, and Ivy George, Gordon College.
  • “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. For one month, I volunteered at the Corrymeela Community in Northern Ireland, supporting their peace and reconciliation work by hosting groups, as well as cooking and cleaning.
  • In the spring 2014, I taught “Gender in  Central America” for Whitworth University’s Costa Rica Center in Heredia for three months.

May Term 2016

Core 300, Global Issues: Gender in a Global Context

Spring Semester 2016

Engl 306, Shakespeare

Engl 201, World Literature

Fall Semester 2015

Engl 301, British Literature I

WGS 325, Gender Theories

Summer 2015

Engl 130, College Composition Online

May Term 2015

Engl 213, Shakespeare in Film

Spring Semester 2015

WGS 200, Introduction to Gender Studies

Engl 201, World Literature

Fall Semester 2015

Core 110, Academic Voice

Core 180-AW, Identity in World Literature

Engl 305, The Novel

Spring Semester 2014

WGS/Soc 196, Gender and Central America (Whitworth University’s Costa Rica campus in Heredia, Costa Rica)


National Women’s Studies Association, San Juan, Puerto Rico, November 2014

  • Session Coordinator, “The Feminist Faithful: Connecting Faith with Feminism through Transgression and Justice,” with Dr. Linda Beail, Dr. Kelli McCoy, Ms. Heather Ross, and Dr. Kara Lyons-Pardue, Point Loma University, and Dr. Ivy George, Gordon University

Retired Faculty Luncheon, “Learning with Heart and Hands: Sabbatical Reflections,” Goshen College, October 2014

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”

Course Expertise


British Literature to 1800


World Literature: Postcolonial Studies

Genre Studies: History of the Novel

Victorian Novel

Humanities: Music and Literature

Expository Writing

Academic Voice

Literature & Writing

College Composition

Communication Skills for Nurses

Women’s Studies:

Introduction to Gender 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


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

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

Book review of Mothering Mennonite. Rachel Epp Buller and Kerry Fast, eds.  for Mennonite Quarterly Review (forthcoming).

“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.

Mininger Research Grant: “From page to stage: Building Context for Teaching Shakespeare,” London, England, 2015

Mininger Conference Grant: “The Feminist Faithful: Connecting Faith with Feminism through Transgression and Justice,” San Juan, Puerto Rico, 2014

Mininger Research Grant: “Service for Peace,” Northern Ireland, 2013

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

Teacher Education Advisory Committee, 2001-2006, 2008-2013, 2014-present

Sexual Violence Prevention Task Force, 2008-2012, 2014-present

  • Attends College Mennonite Church; mentor for high school student
  • Helped coordinate College Student Sister Care April 2015
  • Mennonite Women USA board member, Editorial Representative, 2011-2015
  • Chair, Mennonite Women Editorial Advisory Committee
  • Member, Mennonite Women Bible Study Advisory Committee
  • 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

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 (later the Women’s and Gender 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 Indiana Wesleyan University English department, Marian, Indiana (October 2013); 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) and served on the campus General Education committee (1999-2003( and revision task force (2010-2012).

Dr. Birky has been active with Women’s and Gender activities in the CCCU (Council of Christian Colleges and Universities), attending several conferences and the Women’s Leadership Development (WLDI), at Cedar Springs, WA, June 2010. She has collaborated with Point Loma University professors Dr. Linda Beail and Dr. Bettina Pederson.

Dr. Birky has also serves on the Mennonite Women USA board as the Editorial representative. As such, she works closely with editor Claire DeBerg on the organization’s publication, Timbrel, and their Bible Study Guide series. In the past year, she has worked closely with Rhoda Charles and Carolyn Heggen on adapting Mennonite Women’s Sister Care program for college-aged women. She hosted the first pilot at Goshen College in April 2015 and is organizing the follow-up workshop October 9-10, 2015.