Developing the Human Dimension Through Art
Published on 20 December 2019
Theater has long been a tradition at St. Louis College of Pharmacy. When Tim Moylan, Ph.D., associate professor of English and director of the theater program, joined the College faculty in 2007, he assumed responsibility for the theater from retiring director Joan Hanson. He brought with him a passion for the arts and theater that has been integral in continuing the legacy of artistic expression at the College.
As a recent recipient of the 2019 Agnes Strickland Prize presented by the Queen Elizabeth I Society, Moylan was recognized for his presentation, "Elizabeth I and John Dee: The Role of the Magus in the Elizabethan Court," delivered at the 2019 South Central Renaissance Conference held in Lubbock, Texas. Using his theatrical background to enhance his scholarship focused on Queen Elizabeth I, Moylan brings a fresh perspective to his field and to the classroom.
How did you get involved with the Queen Elizabeth I Society?
My doctoral dissertation advisor Dr. Donald Stump [professor of English and director of English undergraduate studies at Saint Louis University] was one of the founders of the Queen Elizabeth I Society (QEIS). He liked a paper I wrote for his Queen Elizabeth I class and urged me to present it at the South Central Renaissance Conference (SCRC), the umbrella organization of three major organizations including QEIS.
The members of QEIS include some of the premier scholars in Elizabethan studies, but also they are some of my most personable and supportive colleagues. They hold you to very high standards, but do so with diplomacy and a real interest in your studies. My inaugural paper was well received, and I had a great experience. And so, I continued to go year after year to this conference through the rest of my graduate study and after.
How does it feel to receive the Agnes Strickland Prize?
Agnes Strickland was a QEIS founding member and a very-well respected Elizabethan scholar. At her passing, the society created the Agnes Strickland Prize that serves as a sort of 'best in show.' Out of all of the Queen Elizabeth I papers that are presented at the conference, the executive body awards the prize to what they think was the best paper presented. The prize is seen as a mark of real accomplishment, as Strickland was held in high esteem.
This year, I shared the prize with one other person. Both of us were a bit surprised because we heard some very impressive papers. It's nice to have your scholarship recognized by people who know what they are listening for and don't take it lightly. I am humbled to have received the award.
What drew you to focus on Queen Elizabeth I in your scholarship?
I chose Renaissance literature primarily for professional reasons, but if I read anything for about a week, I love it. I have pretty eclectic tastes. My dissertation focused on the elaborate entertainments that were performed for Queen Elizabeth I when she would "go on progress," that is travel to various cities in the provinces and to the houses of her leading nobles. I discovered that my theater and performance background offered a unique perspective on how these could be interpreted.
The queen telegraphed early on that she was very good at reading between the lines of what was being done in these often emblematic entertainments and that she was amenable to being spoken to in that way. As a result, her courtiers and civic leaders often communicated to her in coded language and imagery through these civic displays and performances. It is great fun discerning the political and personal agendas in the accounts of these encounters. For me it is exciting to marry my personal experiences in live theater to my Queen Elizabeth I scholarship.
What do you love most about research?
I love the intellectual engagement that research provides and the way it can inform my teaching. Learning something new is really what the enterprise is all about for me. I tell my students, 'I know you want to get a good grade and check this class off your list, but keep in mind that the grade is only important for a short time. How important is it to you now that you got an A in sophomore English in high school? Do you even remember your grade? What you do remember, hopefully, is something about the literature and something about yourself that your encounter with the work revealed to you.'
What do you think is most important when it comes to the impact that theater has had on our institution?
When I first saw the designs for the Academic and Research Building (ARB), I noticed that the theater and the library occupy the center of the building. To me that is representative of how the College understands that our students are people first and that the arts should be integral in cultivating and developing the human dimension of our personhood.
Of course I want my pharmacist to know the ins-and-outs of my medications, but equally so I want them to be a fully realized human being. It is important to me that we do what we can to deeply and seamlessly integrate that into our students' education.
The College is invested in providing students and the community with access to the arts and opportunities to engage one's artistic expression. From the Liberal Arts Convocations series that brings musicians, artists, authors and more to the College stage to theater and music performance opportunities, students, faculty and staff are encouraged to cultivate the whole self. Learn more about arts at the College at stlcop.edu/academics/performing-arts/.