Loyola University Chicago

Department of English


From graduate student to lecturer: Dr. Ryan Peters (1/29/2024)

From graduate student to lecturer: Dr. Ryan Peters (1/29/2024)

Dr. Ryan Peters’ journey at Loyola started in the spring of 2008, when became a PhD student in the English Department. And now, fifteen years later, he's a Lecturer in the Writing Program teaching students how to write and think critically about literature.

He made the decision to become a graduate student at Loyola after visiting the campus when applying to graduate programs. A Chicagoland native, Dr. Peters wanted to stay in the area, and he considered studying at a few universities in and around the city.

“I ended up looking at a lot of Chicago programs, and Loyola was immediately the one that jumped out at me. I think for a lot of reasons, the biggest one being that the personality of the program, the department, and the students really fit what I was looking for,” he says.

He sat in on a graduate class taught by Pamela Caughie and says he loved not only the class but also the openness of the graduate students when talking to him about his literary interests.

It’s those same interests he pursued during his time as a student, wrote his PhD dissertation on, and now teaches in his courses. He focuses on contemporary dystopian literature and its relationship with current global issues. The texts he really likes to teach include Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler and The Road by Cormac McCarthy, because he says they have something to say about being alive in the contemporary world and touch on current political concerns, such as race and gender.

“I like teaching literature that in some way connects back to the experiences that students might have because I think it’s a way for them to better see how literature actually can enrich their lives, that it can help them, whether it’s the text itself or just the process of reading literature and doing that kind of critical thinking, evaluating, and analyzing of something that doesn’t have one right answer,” he says.

Dr. Peters says he thinks there are real benefits to learning and practicing critical thinking. He teaches his students in a way that lets them connect what they are reading, whether it be contemporary or not, back to their own lives and experiences.

Aside from showing students how to look at literature critically, he also teaches them how to write. In his composition courses (UCWR 110), his students read and work on very contemporary articles or essays.

“Usually, the first thing I say in day one of UCWR is that writing is a process. We can learn the stages even if you don’t think that writing is your best skill. You will come out of the course feeling like you’ve got this toolbox and like you can approach your writing project with more confidence,” he says. “I don’t want any student to leave my class thinking that writing is only for those to whom it comes easily. The ability to write and argue in a rigorous, thoughtful way is a skill all students must develop.”

In his classroom, Dr. Peters tries to find the middle ground between exposing his students to challenging work and teaching them the intellectual and writing skills they need to succeed.

In his new role as Lecturer, Dr. Peters has the opportunity to go beyond the classroom and take on administrative responsibilities, such as textbook and syllabi reviews for the Writing Program, teaching evaluations, and support for newer faculty.

“I'm ecstatic about being a Lecturer in the Writing Program. Because of how long I’ve been a part of Loyola, as a graduate student, instructor, and now lecturer, I’ve always felt at home,” he says.