Shakespeare’s plays have withstood the length of time — so too, it seems, has Paul Green’s presence at WCU.
Doctor Paul Green, a professor in the English department is retiring at the end of this semester after 52 years of teaching at West Chester University. The Quad sat down with him for an interview.
What do you plan to do with all your free time?
Visit family. I have a brother and sister-in-law in California. I’ll take long walks. Maybe do some more reading that I don’t get a chance to do during the year when I’m teaching.
What do you want to read?
Lots of novels that are piling up. I get the London Times Literary Supplement and I read the articles and they’re very interesting, very good and often they give me ideas about what I can read.
What made you first go into teaching?
That’s a good question. I think I’ve always known for as far back as I can remember that I wanted to teach. I enjoyed teaching and I wanted to give it an opportunity. So, here I am.
I was always good in English. I liked it. I thought, you know, it’s something that I might be able to spread to students, I hope. In some of the classes that I’ve taught, there may have been students who weren’t sure, but they enjoyed the class so much they wanted to go on, they wanted to get their degree and maybe do their own teaching.
Have you only ever taught Shakespeare here?
[No]. I’ve taught [John] Milton. I’ve taught surveys of the Renaissance, 16th and 17th century. What else have I taught? Those are the things that I’ve primarily taught, plus, of course, writing courses which everybody has to teach.
Is Shakespeare your favorite one to teach?
I think so. Yeah, I really enjoy it and this semester is wonderful. I have students who are constantly making good statements, good comments, you know, they ask good questions and before you know it the class is over because I have students asking me wonderful questions.
Did you ever get tired of teaching Shakespeare?
Not unless it’s a bad class, and I haven’t had too many bad classes. Most of the students have been very good and forthright and useful and pleasant.
I can only imagine how many students you’ve had. Over your 52 years here, have there been very noticeable changes that you’ve noticed in students and the way of learning and teaching?
I think the students have gotten better. I think the university is being even more careful about the kinds of students that they’re taking in. I think the students are [real] good, the ones that I have are very, very good, and most recently I think the students have been fantastic. I have a very good Shakespeare class, my 9:30 class, my earliest class of the semester. [They are] really good students, they’re very bright, they have good things to say.
Is there anything that hasn’t changed over the last 50 years?
Well, this building. *all laugh*
This is the first time it’s been a little bit warmer. Up until the last few days I’ve been wearing my jacket to classes and a lot of my students are doing the same because it’s so cold.
Have you always been in this office or a different area in Main?
I’ve been across the hall. But as far back as I can remember I’ve been in this building.
What is your favorite work of Shakespeare?
Well, that’s a hard one. Probably Hamlet and King Lear are my two favorite plays, although I enjoy teaching all of Shakespeare. And I will be teaching Lear starting on Friday. I didn’t realize the semester is going to be over so soon. It went very quickly.
Have you taught anywhere else?
I taught at Temple for a year between my master’s and my doctorate. Other than that, no. I’ve been here all this time. And I remember the first day that I taught here. I remember getting off the bus, thinking, “Have I made the right decision?” Well, fifty-some years later, I can say, yes, I think I have.
Where did you go for your education?
I did my undergraduate work at Temple and got my M.A. and Ph.D. at Harvard.
What was that like? Going to Harvard?
Scary at first until I got used to it, but you know, it was good. It has one of the best libraries in the world. I made a lot of friends when I was there, so it was very pleasant. I miss Harvard.
If you had a piece of advice to tell students from your own experience learning and teaching what would you tell them?
Do what you’re most comfortable doing. If you think you enjoy teaching, by all means, try it. Make as many friends as possible, right? Use the library, do a lot of reading. Enjoy yourself, because you don’t get too many chances after that.
Did you ever think of retiring earlier and why didn’t you?
Once or twice I probably thought about it, but I enjoy teaching so much that I decided not to do it. [Until] now, I realized that the time has come. The walrus said to speak of many things. I’ve enjoyed teaching, all my experiences here at West Chester. I will certainly miss my students and my colleagues. The one thing that I really thought about [was], “Do I really want to do it?” Well, in a sense, no but I think it’s probably time, [to] make way for younger colleagues to come and do the teaching. But I will certainly miss West Chester.
Doctor Green then asked us about ourselves and our future career aspirations. We answered accordingly to which he replied: “As Shakespeare said, give ’em’ hell.”
Emma Hogan is a fourth-year English major with a minor in Journalism. EH954390@wcupa.edu.
Olivia Schlinkman is a third-year Political Science major with minors in Journalism and Spanish. OS969352@wcupa.edu.