Established in 2006 by the St. Olaf Board of Regents, the Marie M. Meyer Distinguished Professor is named in honor of Marie Malmin Meyer, professor emerita of English, 1899-2001. One of the first St. Olaf recipients of a faculty Fulbright award, Marie Meyer taught Shakespeare and world literature in the department of English from 1923 until her retirement in 1968. For over a quarter of a century she was a member and frequent chair of the faculty’s Curriculum and Educational Policy Committee. This chair recognizes Dr. Meyer’s distinguished record of teaching, leadership, scholarship, and service to the college. L. Henry Kermott, Professor Emeritus of Biology, was the first to hold this appointment, followed by Paul Zorn, Professor Emeritus of Mathematics, Anne Groton, Professor of Classics, and Karen Cherewatuk, Professor of English.
Current Chair: Karen Cherewatuk, Professor of English
Professor of English Karen Cherewatuk’s expertise is Arthurian literature, medieval romance, medieval women’s literature, and the poetry of Chaucer. She has published Marriage, Adultery, and Inheritance in Malory’s Morte D’Arthur and co-edited the Dear Sister: Women and Epistolary Literature and the Arthurian Way of Death. Her favorite recent article, co-authored with Carson Koepke ’14, examines St. Olaf’s oil portrait of Geoffrey Chaucer and a recent editing project volume explores the idea of retraction: In good medieval fashion, scholars “took back” earlier arguments that they later decided were wrong.
Cherewatuk earned her B.A. in English and classics from the State University of New York at Albany in 1980, arriving at St. Olaf in 1986 with her Ph.D. from Cornell University and her first husband, the late Professor Richard DuRocher (d. 2010). Together they nurtured their love of teaching in the English Department and Great Conversation Program, both believing that understanding the past profoundly influences our view of the present.
Cherewatuk strongly supports St. Olaf’s study abroad curriculum and has seven times taught the “Literature of the Eastern Caribbean” Interim in Barbados, Trinidad, and St. Lucia, as well as Global Semester and “The Great Conversation Abroad.” She is indebted to her students for all they have taught over the decades, both on and off the Hill.
Cherewatuk is currently working on two books: a scholarly project on Grief and Mourning in Malory’s Morte D’Arthur; and, with her second husband Bob Thacker, a book for a popular audience on universal architecture and design, entitled Building the Forever House. She is the mother of Mary Clare DuRocher ’16.