Abigail Heiniger

Assistant Professor of English


Ph.D., English Literature, Nineteenth-Century, Transatlantic. Wayne State University, 2013
M.A., English Literature, Nineteenth-Century, University of Louisville, 2009
M.A., Humanities, Literature and Art History, University of Louisville, 2008
B.A., Summa Cum Laude, double major Honors English and Humanities, University of Louisville, 2007


In the children’s book The Rope Trick, Lloyd Alexander creates a fantasy world where love is the source of real magic. If there is any magic in teaching, I think it comes from love: loving your audience and loving your subject matter. It is the thread that runs through narratives like What the Best College Teachers Do – it unites different teaching approaches and ignites the classroom. I believe that all the research and scholarship invested in being a college professor does not truly come to life until it is brought into the classroom.

My current book, The Fairy Tale Legacy of Jane Eyre at Home and Abroad: Constructions and Deconstructions of National Identity, led me to design a transhistorical course on women in literature: Literature By and About Women: Discourses on Writing Women. I began the course with excerpts from Chaucer, Shakespeare, and Milton. We examined the ways in which these authors set the stage for the revolution in women’s writing in the nineteenth century. The class then moved on to Jane Eyre and her broad body of transatlantic progeny into the present, including post-colonial authors such as Jean Rhys and the recent best selling novel The Thirteenth Tale. Focusing on the specific network of women writers responding to Jane Eyre allowed conversations about community, transatlantic context, and the evolution of ideas since Chaucer, undermining assumptions about both medieval and modern texts. I look forward to teaching on these topics here at Bluefield College.

Crystal Kieloch

Director of QEP; Instructor of English

Rob Merritt

Professor of English; Dean, College of Arts and Letters; Director, Honors Program


Ph.D., English, University of Kentucky, 1990
M.A., English, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, 1981
B.A., English, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, 1974


A native of North Carolina, Rob Merritt came to Bluefield College in 1990, after completing his PhD at the University of Kentucky where he focused on British and American Modernism and completed a dissertation about Ezra Pound and music.  He is interested in the interrelation of the arts, and in his literature classes he often uses examples of music and painting to help explain the stylistic choices made by writers of a given period.

His critical writing includes articles about Pound, Yeats, and Joyce and the book, Early Music and the Aesthetics of Ezra Pound

Dr. Merritt is a poet who has been published in a variety of journals.  He has published two books: Landscape Architect (2006) and The Language of Longing (2012).   In these books, he is interested in the power of place and the continual search for home.  His poems demarcate journeys through West Virginia, North Carolina, Virginia, Maine, Oregon, Florida, Spain, Ireland, and China.  His writing often concerns how the sensibilities of Appalachia can engage with other consciousnesses for a global synthesis of growth and acceptance.

About the title of his recent book, he says “The longing is for the longing to continue.  Desire is life.”  He wants students to share his zeal for writing.  He says, “One great pleasure I find in writing is to discover and invent pattern—in this case of my wandering.” Every student has the power to shape his or her life.  Often writing can be a great help.  He is a board member of the National Association for Poetry Therapy.

Dr. Merritt is Director of the Honors Program at Bluefield College and faculty advisor for The Bluestone Review, the college literary magazine he founded in 1992.

Irene Rieger

Assistant Professor and Chair, Department of English