Marcus Sheffield

Professor of English

Office: Brock Hall 3136
Phone: 423.236.2849

BA, Pacific Union College
MA, Andrews University
PhD, Michigan State University


I have lived all over the United States and the world, but Tennessee has been my home since 1999, with a short break in California. I am the son of a physician father and teacher mother. Both my parents have deep roots in the South, but my father had a hankering for California. My parents moved to California in 1962 and never looked back except for our three years of mission service in Libya, Lebanon, and Kenya. My father died in 2011 on the very day I landed in Afghanistan as an embedded reporter headed to a Forward Operating Base with the U. S. Marines in Helmand Province. That’s a whole other story! My 94-year-old mother now lives near me here in Collegedale.

My attention span is short, and the only thing I’ve never lost is my love for great writing (and classical music). I’ve experimented with starting businesses, creating websites, news writing, joining fire and police departments, life insurance training, truck driver training, caving, music, sales, mountain biking, golfing,  and book editing.

I became an English major at PUC when Dr. Verne Wehtje, the department chair, suggested it. For three years I taught at the secondary level, and then decided to work toward a PhD. My years at Michigan State were transformative. I was free to choose my fields of interests with no interference from some wonderful faculty members. I focused on American literature before 1900, Puritanism, and Composition Theory. My dissertation was entitled Crossing Into Millennium:Herman Melville’s Narratives of the Sea.

I was offered a teaching position at Southwestern Adventist University. I taught there from 1990 to 1999. In 1999, I then accepted a position here at Southern. In recent years I’ve taken on the duties of English Enrollment Coordinator, seeking to spread the truth of the coolness of majoring in English. We in English feel neglected because people think we turn out unemployed poets, which is not the case! My literary interests are in American, world, and biblical literature. I practice the art of reading for insight and pleasure and subscribe to the tenets of so-called New Criticism. Teaching is my first love.   


2018. Book review of For the Common Good: A New History of Higher Education in America, 2017, in Academic Questions (Journal of the National Association of Scholars).

2011. "Marines Helping Afghans Do Things the Afghan Way," Chattanooga Times-Free Press, July 3, 2011. Based on embedded experience with United States Marines at a Forward Operating Base in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. 

2005. "In a Panic," Adventist Review. Pseudonym, "Steve Neumann." 

2000. "Melville's Puritan Imagination," in Prospects: An Annual of American Cultural Studies, Cambridge University Press.