John Gatta is the William B. Kenan Jr. Professor of English at the University of the South. His teaching and research have largely been concerned with American literary and cultural history before 1900—particularly Hawthorne, Whitman, and Harriet Beecher Stowe. He has also taught and written about topics related to American environmental literature, as well as the interplay between religious faith and literary imagination. He has published four books, in addition to more than 50 academic articles in book collections and journals.
John Gatta received his BA from the University of Notre Dame, and his MA and PhD Cornell University. Before coming to Sewanee in 2004, he taught for a number of years as a professor of English at the University of Connecticut, Storrs. At various times his appointment at Connecticut, where he directed fourteen doctoral dissertations, included service as English department head and as coordinator of English graduate studies. He has been a Woodrow Wilson Fellow and a Fulbright professor in Senegal; he has also taught at the University of Missouri and in South Africa. His books include Gracious Laughter: The Meditative Wit of Edward Taylor (winner of 1989 Academic Book of the Year Award from Conference on Christianity and Literature), American Madonna: Images of the Divine Woman in Literary Culture (Oxford Univ. Press, named an "outstanding academic book" for 1998 by Choice editors), and Making Nature Sacred: Literature, Religion, and Environment in America from the Puritans to the Present (Oxford, 2004).
April Alvarez is the Administrator for the School of Letters. She worked previously in Sewanee's Alumni Office. A native of North Carolina, she holds a BA in English and Journalism from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. April received her MFA in 2015 from the School of Letters.
April serves on the creative council of Rivendell Writers' Colony. She worked for the National Geographic Society before moving to Sewanee, where she lives with her husband, photographer Stephen Alvarez, and two children.
Administrative oversight of the program is provided by the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, under whose authority the program operates. He appoints the program’s director and faculty. In his oversight of the program the Dean is assisted by a standing committee, the School of Letters Committee, chaired by the Director of the School of Letters and consisting of the Chair of the Department of English, Director of the Teacher Education program, the Associate Dean of the College, and two faculty members elected by the College Faculty.