Once upon a time, in a land not so far from our own, there lived a little boy who loved stories.
Today, Dr. Norman Jones teaches English at Ohio State Mansfield. He admits, “It’s a funny-strange thing to now be in a position where often students expect me to have all of the answers, when, the questions, really, are what brought me here.” For Dr. Jones, these questions help unravel the deeper meaning of literature.
Some of the interests that he explores now are the gray areas where religious studies, sexuality and gender studies, and modern (20th-21st century) literature intersect. This may seem like an unlikely combination, but Dr. Jones explains, “If you’re talking about the history of sexuality in western culture, you have to talk about religion! Because it so shapes what people thought about sex and sexuality – especially what’s okay and what’s not.”
It’s these types of unlikely patterns that drive the literary research world—to connect the historical context to a work of literature, which, in Dr. Jones’ case, finds influences of the Bible in modern historical fiction. He currently has two essays awaiting publication concerning gay and lesbian historical fiction; and is in the process of writing a novel about Thomas Gray, a collection about the Bible and literature, and another book addressing the Bible and William Faulkner.