A native of Chattanooga, Tennessee, Dr. Steven Epley began his road to teaching in high school with an influential English teacher. He likes teaching English because he loves the language and how literature speaks to the human condition. In his scholarship, Dr. Epley is most excited by how authors apply biblical theology, particularly from the Old Testament, in their writings. Dr. Epley’s first book, Susanna Rowson: Sentimental Prophet of Early American Literature, was published by Northwestern University Press in November 2016. It opens the works of Rowson, America’s first best-selling novelist, to new, provocative interpretations based on the theory that her responses to social issues incorporate notions of righteousness, justice, accountability, and loyalty drawn from prophets in the Hebrew Bible. He is currently researching Rowson’s frequently conflicting and ambiguous views of marriage.
Dr. Epley currently teaches Cultural Perspectives, Communication Arts, British literature, Fiction and Film, Senior Thesis, and eighteenth-century literature. Outside of teaching, Dr. Epley is a dedicated husband and father and loves football, baseball, and politics.
Degrees and Certifications
- B.A., The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
- M.A., Columbia University
- Ph.D., Columbia University
Awards and Honors
- 2017 Faculty Research Award from Howard College of Arts and Sciences, Samford University.
- 2015 Jennings B. Marshall Faculty Service Award, Samford University.
- 2002 William J. Calvert Prize for Literary Scholarship given by Association of College English Teachers of Alabama for essay entitled “An Ambivalent Patriot: Myth making and Intertextuality in the Novels of Susanna Rowson.”
- 1995 James Woodall Prize for Pedagogical Innovation given by Association of College English Teachers of Alabama for team-taught early British literature survey course.
- 2018: Awarded $3,500 grant from Mass Humanities to become Scholar-in-Residence at Medford, MA, Historical Society and Museum, Sept. 5-25, 2018. In this role I conducted research and made presentations at the MHSM and other sites, such as the Massachusetts Historical Society in Boston.
- 2006: Awarded $3,000 grant from Samford in Mission initiative, funded by Lilly Foundation, to develop service-learning course and article in professional journal on the experience.
- Susanna Rowson: Sentimental Prophet of Early American Literature. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 2016.
- “The Poet's Rapture, and the Peasant's Care: A Service/Learning Approach to Eighteenth-Century British Laboring-Class Verse.” In Options for Teaching British Laboring-Class Literature of the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries. Ed. William Christmas. New York: Modern Language Association of America, 2018, 239-4.
- “But I Did Not Love Only Him’: Helping Students Discern Platonic Values in Austen’s Sense and Sensibility.” In Memory, Invention, and Delivery: Transmitting and Transforming Knowledge and Culture in Liberal Arts Education for the Future. Selected Proceedings from the Fifteenth Annual Conference of the Association for Core Texts and Courses: Memphis, Tennessee, April 17-19, 2009. Eds. Richard Dagger, Christopher Metress, and J. Scott Lee. Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 2016, 103-7.
- “The Redemptive Power of Suffering in Lucy Temple,” Studies in American Fiction 38 (2011): 249-65.
- “Susanna Rowson,” Oxford Dictionary of Literary Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004.
- “Breaking the Codes of Susanna Rowson’s Reuben and Rachel,” XVIII: New Perspectives on the Eighteenth Century1 (Spring 2004): pp. 48-61
- “Alienated, Betrayed, and Powerless: A Possible Connection Between Charlotte Templeand the Legend of Inkle and Yarico,” Papers on Language and Literature 38 (Spring 2002): 200-22.
- “An Ambivalent Patriot: Myth making and Intertextuality in the Novels of Susanna Rowson,” Alabama English 13 (2002): 38-57.
- “Mortifying Pride and Celebrating Community: Thoughts Toward Teaching British Literature in a Christian College,” Journal for Peace and Justice Studies10 (2000): 45-64.
- “Tracts,” Encyclopedia of the Essay, Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers, London, 1997.
- “Teaching Laurence Sterne’s Tristram Shandy to a Student With Asperger’s,” Association for Core Texts and Courses Annual Conference, Framingham, Massachusetts, April 13-15, 2018.
- “Aphra Behn’s Oroonoko as a Core Text,” Association for Core Texts and Courses Annual Conference, Atlanta, Georgia, April 14-16, 2016.
- “Teaching Chekhov’s The Three Sisters to Undergraduates,” Association for Core Texts and Courses Annual Conference, Plymouth, Massachusetts, April 15-17, 2015.
- “Bridging the Gap Between Eighteenth-Century British Laboring-Class Verse and Our Students' World Via Service/Learning.” Association for Core Texts and Courses Annual Conference, Los Angeles, California, April 8-10, 2014
- “Opposite Discourses of Philosophy and History: A Deconstructionist Reading of the Martyrdom of Polycarp,” Association for Core Texts and Courses Annual Conference, Gatineau, Quebec. Canada, April 7-9, 2013.
- “The Most Lamentable Tragedy of Aristagoras: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Book Five of Herodotus' History,” Association for Core Texts and Courses Annual Conference, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, April 13-15, 2012.
- “Samuel Johnson's Notion of Excellence in Poetry in Rasselas,” Association for Core Texts and Courses Annual Conference, New Haven, Connecticut, April 12-14, 2011.
- “’But I Did Not Love Only Him’: Recuperating Platonic Values in Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility,” Association for Core Texts and Courses Annual Conference, Memphis, Tennessee, April 17-19, 2009.
- “Bringing the School into the Coffeehouse: A Class Field Trip into Public Space.” Hawaii International Conference on the Arts and Humanities, Honolulu, Hawaii, Jan. 12-14, 2003.
- “Researching the Wyman Affair and its Possible Connection to Susanna Rowson’s Last Two Novels,” American Literature Association Annual Convention, San Francisco, California, May 24-27, 2018.
- “The Centrality of Jewish Biblical Theology in Susanna Rowson’s Charlotte Temple,” American Literature Association Annual Convention, Boston, Massachusetts, May 25-28, 2017.
- “No One Would Undertake Her Cause: Urban Nightmares in Susanna Rowson's Charlotte Templeand Reuben and Rachel,” Catherine Maria Sedgwick Society Annual Convention, New York, New York, Sept. 15-17, 2006.
- “Susanna Rowson's Biblical Dialogues as Interpretive Key for the Works of America's First Best-Selling Novelist.” American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies Annual Convention, Boston, Massachusetts, March 18-20. 2005.
- “Advancing Revolutionary Principles in a Market Economy: Susanna Rowson's Reuben and Rachel and Royall Tyler's The Contrast,” Creighton University Conference on Language and Literature, Omaha, Nebraska, May 1, 1998.
- “Dialogics and Critical Thinking in the Early British Literature Survey,” Institute for the Study of Postsecondary Pedagogy Annual Conference, New Paltz, New York, Feb. 20, 1997.
- “Devoted to His Country: The Sacrificial Nature of the Ban in Susanna Rowson's Lucy Temple.” Southeastern American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies Annual Conference, Johnson City, Tennessee, March 1-3, 2010.
- “Susanna Rowson as America's First Jewish Writer: The Redemptive Power of Suffering in Lucy Temple,” Southeastern American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies Annual Conference, Auburn, Alabama, April 2-4, 2009.
- “Susanna Rowson as America's First Jewish Writer.” North Central Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies Annual Conference, Minneapolis, Minnesota, April 10-12, 2006.
- “The Country Mouse Looks Inward: Horace's Satire 2.6 and Tobias Smollett's Humphry Clinker,” Southeastern American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies Annual Conference, Athens, Georgia, March 14-16, 2006.
- “Old Susanna Meets Old Deuteronomy: An Unlikely Literary and Theological Pairing,” Southeastern American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies Annual Conference, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, March 13-15, 2005.
- “Breaking the Codes of Susanna Rowson's Reuben and Rachel,” Southeastern American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies Annual Conference, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, March 12-14, 2004.
- “Inkle and Yarico and Charlotte Temple: A Possible Connection Between America's First Best-Selling Novel and a Defining Myth of the Enlightenment,” Western Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies, Tempe, Arizona, Feb. 11-13, 2001.
- “Bringing the School into the Coffeehouse: A Class Field Trip into Public Space,” Southeastern American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies Annual Conference, Savannah, Georgia, March 10-12, 2000.
- “Critical Arguments: Writing and Critical Thinking in a Literature Classroom,” Gulf Coast Conference on the Teaching of Writing, Point Clear, Alabama, July 8-10, 1996 (co-presenter Jane Hiles).
- “Stifled in My Heart: Maternal Influence in Mary Hays's The Victim of Prejudice,” Northeast American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies Annual Conference, Stony Brook, New York, Oct. 8-10, 1992.
- “Interpreting the World as Text: Mary Wollstonecraft's Work as a Reviewer,” World and Text Conference, Washington, District of Columbia, May 5-7, 1992.
- “Beliefs about Female Education and the Role of Women in American Society in Susanna Rowson's Reuben and Rachel,” South Central Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies Annual Convention, Lubbock, Texas, Feb. 6-8, 1992.
- “Teaching Eighteenth-Century Literature Through Service/Learning,” To Whom Much Is Given: A Conference on Service/Learning Approaches to Teaching, Tuscaloosa, Alabama, Oct. 9, 2009.
- “An Ambivalent Patriot: Mythmaking and Intertextuality in the Novels of Susanna Rowson,” Association of College English Teachers of Alabama Annual Conference, Jacksonville, Alabama, April 1, 2002.
- “Plotting a Positive Outcome: Redesigning the Early British Literature Survey.” ACETA Conference, Tuscaloosa, Alabama, Feb. 5-6, 1995 (co-presenter Jane Hiles).
- Raising the Ante: Instructional Technology and Academic Intensification. Faculty Development Consortium Instructional Technology Conference, Birmingham, Alabama, March 14, 1996.