Barbara Carson


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 Barbara Carson began teaching at Rollins in 1973, where over the course of twenty-eight years, she distinguished herself as one of the faculty’s pre-eminent professors and valuable contributors to the community.

A native to Florida, Carson received her primary education in Cocoa, Florida. She studied at Brevard Junior College for a year and then at Florida State University, where she earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in 1964. Four years later, Carson graduated from John Hopkins University with a Ph.D. in English. After teaching for two years and completing a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Carson accepted a teaching position at University of Massachusetts Amherst and then at Valencia Community College before joining the Rollins faculty in 1973.

While at Rollins, Carson taught courses in freshman composition, as well as in British and American Literature. She also served as chair of the English department, participated in the GLCA and ACS teaching workshops, and took an active role in the development of the Academic Honor Code. For her outstanding contributions to the college, she was selected twice for the Hugh F. McKean Award, named Author Davis Fellow by her peers, received the Hamilton Holt School’s Distinguished Teacher Award, and in 1994, named to the Theodore Bruce and Barbara Lawrence Alfond Chair of English.

     Carson retired from the College in 2007, but as one student stated, “Like the giant oak tables in Orlando Hall, will be a permanent fixture at Rollins.”

So what made you decide to major in English?

  • "I always loved literature in high school, it was one of my favorite classes, but I started out, actually, as a history major. ‘Cause I thought I wanted-- I also really liked my history teachers, and I liked history. And I thought I wasn’t good enough to be an English major, I thought it was something sort of to aspire to..."


  • "...There are times when I like to joke that I felt sort of vulturish, sort of waiting for somebody to retire in the English department, and it was an awkward time too, because I felt that I wanted whenever a position became available to come in under my own speed, and not just because I was Bob Carson’s wife..."

  • "...One group was up in front of the class, giving the presentation, and I noticed that the one person who was leading it was dressed in a blue blazer, and she had a coffee cup, and I was looking at that, and all of a sudden I realized that she was doing...-- and she was drawing on the board in a special way, and being sort of frenetic -- and I realized she was doing a parody of me, because at that stage I was at my blue blazer stage, and I always came to class with a coffee cup, and I was always jumping around and writing. "

  • "...I remember how wonderful it was to have Thad come to Rollins. We all look back and smile now, but one of the statements he made early on was, “Rollins is going to become the Harvard of the south.” And we all sort of chuckled, I think, and said, “Oh.” But it gave us, wow, a sense of possibility. And when he eliminated the major in business, and declared that we were a liberal arts college, and reinstituted the classics, and began to have us associated with the great lakes colleges -- everybody says, “Oh, Kinyon. That’s a peer college,” and, uh-- So there was a wonderful sense of pride that began to develop with Thad..."




  • "...I cannot imagine being at a place other than Rollins that would have given me more joy, allowed me to create more joy for myself. It turned out just absolutely serendipitously to be, I think, the best place for me to use my own talents and skills, and the best place to foster my strengths without forcing me to play to parts of myself that seem dissonant with what I was really about..."

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Carson Discusses her Teaching Experience

Carson Discusses a Memorable Student Moment

So, can you give us a reflection of your view from the faculty perspective of the college administration?

Now look back. How do you view your Rollins career?