Professor Spotlight: Dr. Jeffrey Hole

                                     PC: Pacific Media Relations

If you are an English major or have taken a literature course as a GE, chances are that you have taken a class with Professor Jeffrey Hole, an associate professor of English here at Pacific. A natural-born scholar, Professor Hole is an enthusiastic and extemporaneous force that manages to simultaneously educate and entertain when giving a lecture, whether that would be in an English class or a PACS seminar.

Born and raised in West Michigan, Professor Hole’s love of literature is one that goes back to his days in high school.

“A light kind of turned on,” he said. “It was at that moment where I wanted to not just know things, but just the idea of being an intellectual became intriguing to me. It was a world that was quite foreign and quite distant. I remember making lists of books I wanted to read and topics I wanted to explore. So of course I wrote down every Shakespeare play, and then I became intrigued with philosophy and theology and studying some aspects of existentialism including Kierkegaard. So by the time I was an undergraduate, it was a good world- you sit and argue and think.

“I was kind of an activist as well [as an undergraduate], so I was trying to link my research and thinking and classroom studies with events and conditions that were happening in the real world. I participated in boycotts, I was interested in what was going on in Latin America at the time and I became more interested in how the U.S. intervenes in other other spaces around the globe, which began to shape a kind of critical view of the U.S. in the world, one that has to be interrogated.”

Professor Hole obtained his B.A. in English and Spanish from Aquinas College in 1995, and soon went on to obtain his M.A. and Ph.D from Pittsburgh University in 1999 and 2007, respectively. He began his teaching career at the University of Minnesota, Duluth soon after receiving his doctorate degree, and taught for two years before moving to California and becoming a professor here at Pacific in 2009.

“When I applied for positions in 19th century American [literature] jobs, this was one of them,” Professor Hole reminisces. “I was hired as the principal early to 19th century Americanist, but I also teach outside that field: world literature, some critical theory, the PACS seminars, introduction to literature, you name it.”

He mainly focuses his research on 19th century American literature and the politics that surround the texts.

“My main area of research is studying the literature that followed in the wake of the Fugitive Slave act of 1850. This affected everyone [in the US], that is in territories where slavery was illegal, those citizens still had to enforce that law. They were, in a way, deputized as a ‘posse comitatus,’ to act in a way that is contrary to their own ethics and values and to enforce something that they didn’t believe in.”

Professor Hole has received numerous grants and awards for his efforts not only in teaching, but also in his research and mentoring efforts. In 2012, he received the Stephen E. Corson Award for the Distinguished Teaching of First Year Students (an award he is particularly fond of), and just last year he won University of the Pacific’s Excellence in Undergraduate Research Mentoring Award. These two awards are just some of the numerous accolades Professor Hole has received throughout his teaching career

Regarding his occupation a professor, Professor Hole describes how the most rewarding thing is the intellectual maturation of students and how they eventually bloom in class discussions.

“As a professor, there have been moments where I am pleasantly surprised by students who seemed to have awakened to the discussions we are having, the students who are usually quiet or may not understand initially. But then all of sudden there is a growing, an intellectual maturation. I think that’s what makes teaching so desirable for me.”

Professor Hole is currently working on a book titled “Fugitive Inventions in the Force of Law,” a book that examines what makes a fugitive; he goes on to say that his book will also examine what it means to be a fugitive under the Fugitive Slave Act, as well as the application of the fugitive in the modern era.

“It details the very figure of the fugitive, and the practices that they have taken part in. We also look at the experiences and effects of this ‘fugitive-ness’ in our present moment, when people have crossed borders and enter different states or countries, especially during an event such as a refugee crisis.”

Professor Hole is one who exemplifies eccentricity and enthusiasm, and out of the ten-plus years of hard work towards obtaining his doctorate, it has led to where he is now here at Pacific. In parting, the professor had some advice for students to ponder.

“Don’t be afraid to deviate from your field of study. Oh, and take some English classes and get your mind blown.”  

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