Meet our Faculty: Dr. Donna Alfano Bussell

Donna BussellDr. Donna Alfano Bussell

Associate Professor of English
Ph.D. English, Columbia University

Phone: (217) 206-8091
Office: UHB 3072

Teaching Concentrations: Medieval and Early Modern Literature: Chaucer, Dante, Arthurian romances; devotional literature; liturgy; medieval and early modern women; linguistics: introduction to linguistics; history of the English language; sociolinguistics; digital humanities; Tolkien

Selected Courses Taught: Lower Division: Freshman Seminar: Medieval Giants, Castles and Cathedrals; What is Power? UIS Capital Scholars Honor Program; Introduction to British Literature

Upper Division:  Introduction to Linguistics; J. R. R. Tolkien, Lord of t he Rings; Medieval Warcraft; The Story of Food; Chaucer and His Era; Arthurian Literature; History of the English Language; Shakespeare Project

Graduate / Senior Seminars: Women in Medieval Literature; Women in Medieval and Early Modern Britain; Digital Humanities Research Methods; Dante; Chaucer and Shakespeare; Sociolinguistics in English Studies


UIS nominee for the “U.S. Professors of the Year” award, sponsored by CASE and Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching

UIS Pearson Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching, 2014

UIS SAIG AY 2013-14 English and History Departments’ initiative to create curriculum and prepare faculty for teaching in Digital Humanities

UIS College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Excellence in Teaching Award

American Association of University Women Short-Term Research Grant

Selected Publications:


Among the things I love most about teaching at UIS are the small class sizes and the chance to teach diverse students at every level, both online and on-campus. I am free to work with students on creative, engaging, and self-directed projects in many of our courses. Classes are very active. We have many resources for hands-on learning and practice. But what I enjoy most about the scale of UIS is that we can also really talk. One of our graduate students recently “verbed” the noun “campfire” (as in, “Let’s campfire!”), inventing our seminar’s distinctive call to a discussion circle. This image sums up the pleasure of teaching here.

I know from personal experience that career paths can change many times in one’s professional lifetime. I have a special interest in teaching that began with my two previous careers as a public health nurse (RN/PHN) and as a certified bilingual (English-Spanish) speech-and-language pathologist. In the latter, I spent many years working with special needs children. In each of these careers, teaching was central. In recent years, I have especially enjoyed being the English liaison for the UIS Teacher Education Program, allowing me to directly apply my previous interest and experience in teaching in multiple environments.

Because of my background and love of teaching, I also appreciate the diverse group of students at UIS who are forging ahead and breaking new ground for themselves in their education. It’s a pleasure to mentor students as they explore ways of presenting their work, prepare applications for scholarships or post-graduate professional programs, or re-think their careers and educational goals.