Battling Grendel, Old school: Get to know Dr. Melissa Mayus
By Alexis Delancey-Christiansen
The esteemed ranks of HAC grow yet again this fall semester; Dr. Melissa Mayus has joined the faculty of the Humanities and Communication Department, adding new insights and perspective.
Hailing from Springfield, Missouri, Dr. Mayus is teaching two sections each of Composition I and Composition II and is looking forward to teaching the History of the English Language in the spring, a course that aligns neatly with her specialization. After getting her undergraduate degree in English and music history at Notre Dame, she received her first master’s at St. Louis University and returned to Notre Dame for her doctorate in medieval literature. During a break in time studying for her Ph.D., Dr. Mayus attended the University of Iceland in Reykjavík and received a master’s in medieval Icelandic studies. In addition, she also spent time doing a postdoc at Western Michigan University.
It was her time at Notre Dame that really inspired Dr. Mayus in Old English (think Beowulf). After taking an Old English course, “by chance,” as an undergraduate at Notre Dame, she was fascinated by the subject and dove in from there, without even knowing that Old English was almost unrecognizable from the modern language we have today. From there, Old Norse was a logical next step, considering the historical proximity of the languages. It is this course, and the professor that made it so riveting, that she credits as the beginning of her interest in the field, and Old English remains her primary focus.
Trine is also far from her first teaching post. “I started teaching during my first master’s degree, at St. Louis, with very little training. I was actually younger than some of my students,” Dr. Mayus said. She taught composition at varied intervals throughout all of graduate school, and then, as she progressed through her doctoral program, she began teaching literature as well. She also has experience in more administrative work, helping international students navigate the United States as well as more traditional tasks.
When asked what made the humanities community at Trine special, Dr. Mayus said that, “The community here is really close… It’s been close-knit, and there’s a definite attempt here to reach out to other majors and other schools.” The size is a benefit as well; she said that there are certainly benefits to walking into a department and knowing every face, and that it can be a nice change of pace when coming from a larger university.
For those interested in following a track like hers, Dr. Mayus had several words of wisdom, but the most succinct ones say it best. “Go for it,” said Dr. Mayus, “Pick where you want to study carefully… Look for places you can network a lot. Go to conferences young… Embrace your inner nerd, and go for it.” She also stressed the importance of finding a path that combines the modern and the specialization.