Alison Caviness Gibson, Ph.D.

Associate Lecturer of English
On Faculty since 2010

Office: Blanchard Hall 308
Phone: (630)752-5051


Ph.D., University of Virginia, 2011

M.A., University of Virginia, 2005

B.A., Wofford College, summa cum laude, 2003

About Alison Caviness Gibson

My primary interests include American literature, the literature of the U.S. South, the teaching of writing, and faculty development. As a graduate of a liberal arts college, I know first-hand the value of a liberal arts education, and I am passionate about general education literature and writing.

Teaching Philosophy

In the twenty-first century, it is all too easy to acquire an education in isolation: to read books alone, to watch lectures online alone, to conduct research alone. Even at a liberal arts college, it is entirely possible for a student to write a brilliant research paper, submit it to a professor, receive it back with a glowing grade, and then never speak of it again. My pedagogical model is designed to break this insular cycle, to show students the rich benefits of learning through conversation—with literary texts, each other, and me—and sharing their knowledge with others. Communal learning is not just about group projects; it is about teaching students how to productively agree and disagree, question one another’s views, and learn from each other.

Courses Taught

  • ENGL 101: Classics of Western Literature
  • ENGW 103: Composition and Research
  • ENGL 105: Modern Global Literature
  • ENGL 343: American Literature: Modernism and Beyond

Membership in Professional Societies

  • Society for the Study of Southern Literature
  • F. Scott Fitzgerald Society
  • Modern Language Association
  • National Council of Teachers of English (and the CCCC)
  • Professional and Organizational Development Network in Higher Education
  • National Women’s Studies Association


My scholarship in American literature examines the southern “belle” and dismantles the myth that she is solely the product of southern imaginations and white southern men in particular. Using a critical lens sharpened by locational feminist theory, I consider how authors and texts not traditionally considered “southern” depict the southern belle outside her native territory, both performing and renegotiating her identity in relation to various cultures and spaces. My re-reading of the belle contributes to recent work in the “new southern studies” by blurring the lines between southern and non-southern texts, as well as regional and national authorship.

My scholarship in writing pedagogy centers on best practices such as grading student writing and teaching genre analysis. Recently, I’ve been collaborating with my colleagues on a project entitled “Hospitality of Composition: Creating Habitable Sites for Writing on Campus.” My work draws on my teaching experiences at Wheaton, as well as Lewis Hyde’s work The Gift, to reconceptualize the writing classroom as a hospitable site of gift exchange in which we might understand a beautifully orated lecture or a carefully designed syllabus as an artistic gift from a professor to her students, just as a well-researched academic essay is a gift from a student to her professor (and to her classmates, as well).


“‘There’s Something in that Voice of Hers’: The Southern Flapper in The Great Gatsby” (article in progress)

“‘What Queen Do You Think You Are?’: Performing the Southern Belle in A Streetcar Named Desire” (under review)

“Hamilton Basso.” The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture, Volume 9: Literature. Ed. M. Thomas Inge. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2008.

Selected Presentations

“The Southern Flapper: White Southern Womanhood in The Great Gatsby” presented at the F. Scott Fitzgerald Society Conference, Montgomery, November 7, 2013

“White Southern Femininity in A Streetcar Named Desire” presented at Gender, Place and Space: An Interdisciplinary Conference, University of Notre Dame, March 27, 2010

“‘There’s Something in that Voice of Hers’: F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Gendering of the U.S. South in His Great American Novel,” Thesis Presentation before the Department of English, University of Virginia, March 20, 2009

“Beyond the Belle’s Borders: Fitzgerald’s Americanization of White Southern Femininity in The Great Gatsby” presented at the Society for the Study of Southern Literature panel at the American Literature Association annual conference, San Francisco, March 25, 2008

“Southern Womanhood in Fried Green Tomatoes” presented at the Popular Culture Association / American Culture Association annual conference, Boston, April 6, 2007

Professional Development

“Teaching Genre Analysis,” workshop leader, meeting of Composition and Research instructors, Department of English, Wheaton College, 2014

“Authority in the Classroom,” organizer, moderator, and panelist, presented to the Graduate Student Pedagogy Seminar, Department of English, University of Virginia, 2009

“Authority in the Classroom for Graduate Student Instructors: Practical Issues,” organizer and panel moderator, presented to graduate student instructors, University of Virginia, 2009

“Leading Effective Discussions,” workshop leader, Teaching Resource Center’s August Teaching Workshop for new graduate student instructors, University of Virginia, 2008

“Grading Student Writing,” workshop leader, training for new graduate student instructors in the Department of Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese, University of Virginia, 2008

“Teaching the First Days of Class,” workshop leader, Teaching Resource Center’s August Teaching Workshop, University of Virginia, 2007, 2008

Media Center