Edward Copeland may be retired and living in London,
but he hasn't left his students behind.
Edward Copeland retired this year after three decades of teaching English
literature, but, no matter how far he goes, hes found that Pomona
College is not easily left behind.
is currently living in London and working on a number of projects, including
an edition of Jane Austens Sense and Sensibility with footnotes
explaining what studentsespecially American students usually
One of the things I am thinking about all the time these days is
my Pomona students; What questions did they have? Where do the lines of
explanation need to be? Copeland says. So my Pomona students
are with me all the time these days.
Once hes done with that project, Copeland plans to work on an edition
of a post-Jane Austen novel, Catherine Gores Cecil, with
former student Andrea Hibbard 86, who now teaches at the University
of Pittsburgh. The idea for the collaboration was born when Copeland ran
into Hibbard at a conference. It is really wonderful to know the
Pomona connection goes on and on even after retirement, he says.
Copelands history with Pomona began when he joined the English Department
faculty in 1972. While at Pomona, his courses included 18th-Century
Literature, Jane Austen, Literature of the American South and Early
I had always wanted to teach in a small liberal arts institution,
Copeland says. Pomona was exactly where I wanted to be.
A year after coming to Pomona, Copeland set down deeper roots in the community
when he married Margaret Meg Mathies, a professor in the Joint
Science Department of Pitzer, Scripps and Claremont McKenna colleges,
at a ceremony officiated by then-Pomona President David Alexander. Mathies
retired this year with her husband.
Copelands courses proved popular with students, who described Copeland
in course reviews with glowing terms, including energetic, charming
and insightful and engaging, excited and intelligent.
Shauna Antley 00, recalls Copelands classes as being among
the highlights of her time at Pomona.
He made me feel that, even though the works we studied had been
analyzed by scholars before, I still could contribute to the discussion,
Antley says. He was interested in what students thought and gave
me the confidence to take risks.
When Bao Bui 98, looks back on his days at Pomona, he remembers
Copelands class on Jane Austen as one of the best, period.
Professor Copeland made literature absorbing and intellectualism
look cool, says Bui. His classes were always fun, and my big
regret is not taking more classes with him. He will leave behind big shoes
for his successor to fill.
His former students arent the only ones who recall his classes as
fun. Copeland, too, says he thoroughly enjoyed his time in the classroom.
He misses teaching and says leaving it has been something of an adjustment
for him, in ways both ordinary and unexpected.
It is always a shock to see a book you are going to buy and you
think How am I going to teach this? Then you realize you are
never going to teach it, he says. Whats the use
of buying it? I thinkbefore screwing my head back on right.
That is an adjustment I am going to have to make.
Copeland also feels nostalgic for the daily life at Pomona College.
I miss the everydayness of collegial life, the meetings in the hallways,
chats with Mrs. Clonts in the office, students dropping by, the sense
of being part of the general hum of college life, Copeland says.
Still, teaching is a tremendous expense of energy, and Copeland, who wants
to devote his time to scholarship and research, realizes he cant
do both at once. He illustrates the finiteness of time by relating the
story of an encounter with an unexpected sage.
In 1986, Copeland went camping in the desert with a group of Pomona faculty,
alumni and trustees to get the Pomona view of Halleys
comet. While there, Jonathan Reed, young son of English Professor Arden
Reed, made a stark observation.
He took the opportunity to remind us that he would be the only one
alive the next time it came around and we would all be dead, Copeland
says with a wry laugh.
I wish I had another 30 years for scholarship and research30
years at Pomona and 30 years here, Copeland says. But little
Jonathan Reed was right.
Deborah Haar Clark is staff
writer at Pomona College.