Shawn Rosenheim Named First Williams-Mystic Faculty Fellow

Media contact: Noelle Lemoine, communications assistant; tele: (413) 597-4277; email: [email protected]

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass., December 12, 2017—A new program that allows Williams College faculty to spend a semester at the Williams-Mystic program in Mystic, Conn., will begin in Spring 2018 with Shawn Rosenheim, professor of English, as the first resident faculty fellow.

Shawn RosenheimAs the faculty fellow, Rosenheim will reside at the Mystic campus, participate in field seminars, contribute guest lectures and seminars, and incorporate aspects of the Mystic pedagogy back into his own teaching. During the semester, Rosenheim anticipates collaborating with the faculty as a guest lecturer and participant in interdisciplinary panels, and hopes to screen his film Biosphere 2. He will also create a podcast about the semester that will include interviews with students and faculty, and will follow the class on their field seminars and through their lives in Mystic. He hopes that the podcast will provide an in-depth look at the program for those who are unfamiliar with it.

“Shawn Rosenheim was selected as the first Williams-Mystic Faculty Fellow in part due to his commitment to interdisciplinary and experiential pedagogies,” says John Gerry, Williams College Dean of the Faculty. “As a teacher, he is already a champion of the collaborative instructional methods used by the faculty at Mystic.” A scholar of American Renaissance literature, Rosenheim has expertise in many of the works of maritime literature that are taught at Williams-Mystic, including Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. As a professor for the Summer Humanities and Social Sciences Program (SHSS), Rosenheim has taken his students to Mystic for the past three summers to experience the museum’s interpretation of Melville’s world, discuss the influence of the coastal environment on American literature, and visit the world’s last surviving wooden whaleship, the Charles W. Morgan.

Rosenheim is looking forward to the opportunity to engage students in experiential learning. “The Mystic program incorporates teaching that goes beyond disciplinary constraints,” he says. “Students develop the ability to ask questions across disciplines.” He is particularly interested in exploring the links between the town of Mystic, maritime studies, and indigenous peoples.

After a recent visit to the Mystic campus, Rosenheim says he was struck by the sense of common purpose and camaraderie among the Mystic faculty, and looks forward to being a part of the program. Several current faculty members are alums of the program, which he says speaks to the transformative experience the semester provides.

Tom Van Winkle, executive director of Williams-Mystic, believes that the resident fellowship will foster collaboration between the Mystic program and the college. “For four decades Williams faculty have heard about Williams-Mystic from a distance,” Van Winkle says. “The resident fellow experience, however, will provide the first semester-long in-depth experiential understanding of the transformational power of the Williams-Mystic semester and a glimpse into the power and magic of interdisciplinary learning.”

The Williams-Mystic program offers a unique interdisciplinary curriculum focused on the sea. It is based at the Mystic Seaport museum. Students enroll from Williams and a range of other colleges and universities to spend an intensive, immersive 17-week long semester. During that time, students take four interconnected courses, pursue independent projects, participate in three extended field seminars at different sites (one offshore and two coastal), and cultivate hands-on skills.


Founded in 1793, Williams College is the second-oldest institution of higher learning in Massachusetts. The college’s 2,000 students are taught by a faculty noted for the quality of their teaching and research, and the achievement of academic goals includes active participation of students with faculty in their research. Students’ educational experience is enriched by the residential campus environment in Williamstown, Mass., which provides a host of opportunities for interaction with one another and with faculty beyond the classroom. Admission decisions on U.S. applicants are made regardless of a student’s financial ability, and the college provides grants and other assistance to meet the demonstrated needs of all who are admitted.