ORONO, Maine — To fill the school’s new Stephen E. King Chair in Literature, University of Maine officials have courted a Shakespeare scholar away from Boston College.
Caroline Bicks will leave her job at BC, where she’s been an English professor since 2002, to take on the new UMaine post in September. Bicks grew up in New York City, but spent summers growing up with her family in Castine.
“I remember reading every Stephen King book that they had at the Castine Public Library,” Bicks said in a UMaine news release. “His writing taught me early on that an artfully composed story can make a powerful and lasting impression. I still can’t sleep with the closet door open thanks to ‘The Boogeyman.’”
At Boston College, Bicks taught undergraduate and graduate courses in early modern literature and culture. She also has led graduate seminars at the Bread Loaf School of English in Vermont for the past six years. She worked as an assistant professor at Ohio State University, and earned a doctorate degree from Stanford in 1997.
Bicks has given lectures across the country focused on Shakespeare’s relevance in today’s world, pointing to echoes of Shakespeare’s work and influence in modern popular culture.
For example, Bicks draws a parallel between the “mental puberty” that the character Carrie experiences in King’s novel of the same name, and that which Juliet goes through when she nears “the change of 14 years” at the start of “Romeo and Juliet.” After this change, both characters go on to “act out scenes that range from the romantic to the gruesome,” she said.
The Stephen E. King Chair in Literature was announced early last year after The Harold Alfond Foundation offered a $1 million gift to help establish the post. The aim was to help the English department recruit and retain top scholars and support the creation of new learning opportunities for students and advance creative writing and literature on campus.
King, who now lives in Bangor, graduated from UMaine with an English degree in 1970. Three years later, “Carrie” was published as his first novel. Since then, he’s written more than 50 novels, six nonfiction books and nearly 200 short stories. In November 2015, King was awarded a National Medal of Arts, recognizing his contributions to literature.
His wife, Tabitha, is also a UMaine graduate, and the couple went on to become two of the school’s best-known alumni.
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