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‘All the world’s a stage’ for literature professor

Created date

October 27th, 2009

[caption id="attachment_6450" align="alignright" width="280" caption="Peter Stine, Ph.D., in front of the Africa wall in his apartment home at Brooksby. (Photo by Setarreh Massihzadegan) "][/caption] Even in one-on-one conversation, Peter Stine, Ph.D., is prone to theatrics. A story about a student s Annie Oakley monologue easily becomes Stine s recitation of that same monologue from his memory of the performance years ago. It is no surprise to learn that Stine, who lives at Brooksby Village, has no intention of giving up his teaching, which is replete with interpretations of poetry and literature and backed by a lifetime of practice. This fall, Stine is teaching his third course at Brooksby, this time on the American novel. He will simultaneously teach courses at Gordon College, where he s taught for 40 years, and Salem State College s Explorers Lifelong Learning Institute. I thank God often that this was my calling, says Stine, who is also a Baptist minister, of his teaching. Called to teach A couple of months after moving to Brooksby in August 2008, Stine approached Community Resources Coordinator Fran Gerrior to ask about teaching a class there. They decided to start with a course on New England poets, and Gerrior told Stine that he would probably get 15 to 18 people to enroll. At the end of the first day, 12 people had signed up. By the second day, the number had risen to 34. In total, more than 60 people took his course, which was held in Brooksby s chapel. Richard Thornburg, who lives at Brooksby and is president of its Resident Advisory Council, was among the students. He is a marvelous reader of poetry, Thornburg says of Stine, whose fall course he is also taking. He read poems that I remember studying in college, but he brought a new liveliness and beauty to them. Judging from his heavy album of letters from grateful former students, Stine has had a similar effect on many others. Lifetime of learning Stine s Brooksby apartment home is a tribute to his passion for teaching and learning. On one wall, diplomas for his master s degree and doctorate hang proudly beside his Lifetime Achievement Award, given to him by Gordon College in 2008. Much of Stine s teaching career was based at Gordon, located in Wenham, Mass., but it extended far beyond the state and Stine s specialty of Victorian literature. In 1985, Stine took a sabbatical to travel the world visiting various missions. In 1990, he taught a class in Kenya. Stine s Africa wall features paintings and masks from various parts of the continent. Below it, statues of animals gather on a table. Across the room, artwork from Sri Lanka and Micronesia also play a role. A trip to Tokyo with students prompted Stine to name the book of autobiographical stories he is writing The Octopus was Chewy. Local reading Though Stine has traveled far and wide, the focus of his latest class at Brooksby was set in this country, delving into the Great American Novel. For him, the great American novel is Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. I think it captures the peculiar and yet indomitable spirit of the Americans, he says. For the class, Stine asked his students to read The House of the Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Uncle Tom s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe, and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. It s just remarkable to see a fellow resident that has such knowledge and background and is willing to offer it to the rest of us, says Thornburg. I think he s a great addition to our community. As for his retirement plans, Stine says, I ve got books to read that will go into the next millennium, but I do like to teach.