In terms of titles and scholarly work, Dr. Ben Click is a Professor of English at St. Mary’s College of Maryland and the Director of the Twain Lecture Series on American Humor and Culture. He has also been the former chair of the English department and Director of the College Writing and Speaking Center. His most recent publication, for which he is co-editor and contributing author, is a critical reassessment of Charlie Chaplin, Refocusing Chaplin: A Screen Icon in Critical Contexts (Scarecrow Press 2013). He has given numerous lectures and scholarly papers on Mark Twain, published articles and book chapters on the teaching of writing and writing assessment. His current research explores the rhetorical effects of silence in the works of Mark Twain. He is also working on a book that examines humor as a rhetorical strategy in environmental writing, a genre that is sometimes seen as taking itself too seriously.
In terms of teaching, Dr. Click values this part of his profession the most. His college teaching career began in 1981, and he has taught courses at all levels in rhetoric, rhetorical theory, writing, American literature, American humor, and critical theory. In 2014 he was awarded the Norton L. Dodge Award for Excellence in Teaching. Borrowing a line from a Dylan song, Dr. Click believes that “You gotta get up near the teacher if you can if you wanna learn anything.”
In terms of his life outside of academia, Dr. Click is a family guy who plays the blues on guitar and piano (not simultaneously), who thinks baseball is a near perfect game, and who loves his wife and two daughters and even likes them most of the time.
Courses Recently Taught
- ENGL 420. Rhetoric and Poetics
- ENGL 410. Twain
- ENGL 365. Southern Literature
- ENGL 365. American Comedy
- ENGL 201. Writing Arguments
- 1980 - B.A. - English - Stephen F. Austin State University
- 1982 - M.A. - English - Stephen F. Austin State University
- 1994 - Ph.D. - English - The Pennsylvania State University
Areas of Expertise
- Applied Rhetoric
- American Humor
- Mark Twain
- Rhetoric and Poetics; Rhetoric and Composition
- Southern Literature
Refocusing Chaplin: A Screen Icon through Critical Lenses
One effective method of teaching theory is to focus on a popular text and provide competing interpretations. Howe, Caron, and Click gather a cluster of such perspectives as they converge on the polysemic, iconic auteur filmmaker Charlie Chaplin. Offering a wide range of theoretical perspectives–Marxism, feminism, psychoanalysis–contributors exhume and dissect the body of Chaplin and his work, studying his screen persona and public celebrity. The approach serves both to highlight neglected aspects of the complex artist and to illumine theory. Charles Maland’s introductory essay inaugurates this conversation by exploring the enduring appeal of both Chaplin and his cinematic persona Charlie. In his phenomenological study of Charlie’s kinesic slapstick, Caron shows the clown as clumsy fool, ‘ironic trickster,’ and comic acrobat. Several essays offer particularly fascinating perspectives, especially Cynthia Miller’s ‘A Heart of Gold: Charlie and the Dance Hall Girls’ and Click’s rhetorical analysis of The Great Dictator. The critical collisions and cross-fertilizations among the contributors foster a lively, worthwhile intellectual exchange.
Summing Up: Recommended.
Upper-division undergraduates through faculty. (CHOICE)