Meet our Faculty: Dr. Sara Cordell

Sara CordellDr. Sara Cordell

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

Phone: (217) 206-7213
Office: UHB 3066

Teaching Concentrations: 19-century British literature; literary theory

Courses Taught: The Gothic Novel; The Victorian Novel; The Brontes; The Romantics; Introduction to the Discipline; Literary Study and Research; Science Fiction; Scandinavian Crime Novels

Research Interests:

“My research focuses on the intersection between literature and psychoanalysis insofar as literature itself is a symptom. Currently, I’m working on a book that argues that the novels of the Brontes provided each sister an aesthetic means of giving form and expression to unspeakable grief and loss. In addition, I’ve published peer-reviewed articles and given numerous papers on literature and psychoanalysis at regional and national conferences.”

Dr. Cordell received her Ph.D. in English, specializing in Nineteenth-Century British Literature and Literary Theory, from the University of Missouri in 1995. After serving eight years on the faculty at DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois as a visiting assistant professor of English and associate instructor of writing and literature, she joined the faculty of the University of Illinois Springfield in 2003 as an assistant professor of English.

As an experienced instructor of academic writing, literature, and literary theory, Professor Cordell finds that she is well positioned to help students make vital connections between rhetoric as a basic tool not only of persuasion but also of literary design. She challenges students to consider the relation between rhetorical strategies and artistic design in their own writing as well as in the works of literary artists.

“Literature is our cultural glue. It shows us who we are as a people, where we have come from, and suggests where we are going. It also permits us to encounter lives and situations vastly different from our own, forcing us outside our comfort zones to consider the causes of difficult choices and hard-won realizations. Above all, literature elevates language to the level of art, giving expression to feelings too deep even for tears. As a former student once said to me just after an unfathomable personal loss, ‘I’m an accounting major. I’ve never thought too much about literature, but all through those terrible days and nights, lines from the Ben Johnson poem we read in class kept going through my mind. I don’t know why, but they helped.’ Literature shows us our common humanity. It enriches our lives, broadens our perspectives, and furnishes our minds with language to say that for which we have no words. The value of literature is both intrinsic and invaluable. That’s why I love it and love sharing that love with my students.”