Daniel Clausen

Visiting Assistant Professor of First-Year Seminar

A moment of clarity. Clicking with a poem or a line in a story. Or perhaps recognizing a new angle in their own narrative. Seeing students’ epiphanies and being able to nurture those moments is what motivates Visiting Assistant Professor Daniel Clausen, who says that “these moments that combine imagination and reasoning are what drew me to literature, and what keeps me coming back year after year”.

When Clausen discusses how the literature he teaches impacts students, he mentions his own father, who was an engineer. He says that his father would “complain about a ‘poverty of imagination’ in his colleagues.” He recalls his father telling him, “An engineer can build you a car, but writers make us want to go places.”

One of the great things about studying literature is that it’s not just about a livelihood, it’s about living your life.

Writers and their stories are able to give people heroes, motivation and goals that help them achieve success in their own lives. During his time at Transy, Clausen has seen the English majors go on to succeed in publishing, teaching, law, medicine and many other careers. “No matter what route they choose,” says Clausen, “students who study English have the rare and valuable skills of deep thinking, reading between the lines, seeing the big picture and writing well.”

Literature helps bring empathetic insight into our lives. It allows us to ask the questions that really matter. Questions about how we spend the time we are given, who we choose to keep in our lives and what we want to believe in.

“I hope that students who meet and spend some time with great writers,” Clausen says, “carry those voices and characters forward with them and enrich the value of their lives, no matter what they do for a living.”