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
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
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..."