Dr. Donald Secreast

Donald Secreast received his BA in English from Appalachian State University in 1972. In 1975, he received his MA in English from Appalachian State. After teaching for two years, he attended The Johns Hopkins University Writing Seminars where he received an MA in fiction writing in 1978. He taught for three years at Louisburg College then went to the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop and received an M.F.A. in fiction writing in 1984. He taught for four years at Appalachian State and Mitchell Community College and returned to the University of Iowa to work on his Ph.D. In 1992, he was awarded his Ph.D. in British Modernism 1900-1945. His creative writing dissertation was a collection of short stories entitled White Trash, Red Velvet, published by HarperCollins in 1993. Also in 1992, Donald Secreast began teaching at Radford University.

In the summers of 1982 and 1983, Secreast traveled in South America with novelist Charles Frazier to assist him in gathering information for his travel book, Adventuring in the Andes. Midway through his Ph.D. work, Secreast’s first story collection, The Rat Becomes Light, was published by Harper & Row in 1990. In November of 2015, a collection of Secreast’s poetry is scheduled to come out: Ruins Too Bright to Visit. This chapbook is a collection of poems written about his experiences while traveling in Peru, Ecuador, and Bolivia. Between 1996 and 2004, Secreast was a book reviewer for the cultural magazine The World and I. For several years, he has regularly submitted book reviews to the Appalachian Studies publication Appalachian Journal. His two most recent reviews with the Appalachian Journal have been a double review of two books about James Agee and most recently a review of Beth Macy’s Factory Man.

Two academic areas that particularly interest Secreast are pedagogy and narratology. He believes that our primary job as teachers is to make our lessons as accessible to students as possible. Consequently, much of the writing that he does about pedagogy and narratology focuses on helping students visualize narrative movement and the analytical process. Several of his essays on pedagogy have appeared in The Virginia English Bulletin. His most recent essay to appear in this publication was “Three problems That Make Literacy Education So Difficult: Using Grown Up Digital to Discuss Students’ Attitudes Toward Reading and Writing.” In addition to his interest in academic pedagogical theories, Secreast’s essay about creative writing pedagogy appear as an “exclusive pedagogy article” on the Associated Writing Programs website in 2014: “Heart to Chart: Helping Students Visualize Our Responses to Their Fiction.” Currently, Secreast is working on an essay about a pedagogical approach which he calls Narradynamics, a method which is a blend of reader-response, structuralism, and computational analysis.

In the fall of 2015, Secreast began his 24th year of teaching at Radford University. During this time, he has taught twenty-seven different courses, from English 101 and Core 101 to English 699. The courses he teaches most frequently are English 300: Introduction to English Studies; English 309: Introduction to Fiction Writing; English 340: American Literary History; English 410: Advanced Fiction Writing; and English 496: Senior Seminar. Two authors whose work Secreast particularly enjoys teaching are Faulkner and Richard Wright. One of Secreast’s main non-teaching duties is serving as the advisor to the university’s literary/arts magazine Exit 109.