Dr. Laine A. Scott
How did a French major become a professor in a college English program?
Via a long, unpredictable road through the terrain of Life Experience. All along
the way, the operative word in my life has been "opportunity."
A native of
, I earned my
College of William and Mary
in Williamsburg, Virginia. My aptitude for foreign languages led to my taking
courses in German, Russian, and Spanish, with a
And English? I took a couple of linguistics courses, but the sight of those English
majors lugging their Norton anthologies around campus convinced me to stick with
la langue française
I graduated a semester early, as a belated member of the Class of 1979. At that
time I had no intention of ever pursuing graduate studies, much less of becoming
an educator, in French or in any subject.
Instead, immediately after college I moved to
, where I parlayed my liberal arts degree into an entry-level job at a small
firm. In addition to playing matchmaker (for a commission) between ship owners
and charterers with cargoes of grain, ore, and other bulk commodities, I learned
how to keep track of vessel positions, monitor weather conditions at sea, draw
up charter parties (the legal contracts for each chartered ship), and run voyage
Back in those days—the early 1980's—there was no e-mail, and fax machines were
still a novelty. We conducted all of our business via telephone, telex (teletype),
and snail mail, and every broker's desk held a copy of
Within my three years at
International Navigation Corporation
, I discovered that as much as the shipping industry fascinated me (and still
does to this day), I didn't (and still don't) enjoy making phone calls. I also
began to regret not having spent my junior year abroad. So primarily for the opportunity
to live in France, I quit my job and enrolled in the
French School at Middlebury College.
Middlebury's master's program involved a summer at the college's Vermont campus,
followed by an academic year in
, where I studied at
L'École Commerciale de la Chambre de
Commerce et d'Industrie de Paris (ECCIP)
and at the
campus of the
. Building upon my work experience in ocean freighting, I wrote my master's thesis
on the maritime industry of contemporary France. Along with my
M.A. in French
, I earned a
Diplôme Supérieur de Français des Affaires
From Paris I moved to
, where, thanks to my five semesters of college German and my high school typing
class, I was hired as the
Administrative Manager of the Frankfurt
. During my two years with this non-profit organization, I handled various clerical
duties for our main Frankfurt office and its three branch facilities.
Highlights of my stint in Deutschland included a visit to a U.S. Army training
exercise at the Grafenwoehr Training Area in Bavaria, a tour of the East German
border at Fulda, and the opportunity to lead a couple of bicycle tours along the
Rhine and Mosel rivers. The central location of Frankfurt makes it a natural hub
for trips all over Europe, and I traveled every chance I could, from London to
Prague, from Stockholm to Rome, from Bordeaux to Berlin.
When I returned to the U.S. in the summer of 1986, I moved to
(a suburb of Philadelphia). A former USO co-worker invited me to live with her
family until I found full-time employment and could afford my own place. Once again
my German and keyboard skills led to a terrific opportunity, this time in the law
, Germany's answer to Procter and Gamble.
My duties at Henkel involved preparing patent and trademark applications for filing
in the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. When my supervisors noticed that I had
an independent streak and could be trusted with increased responsibility, they
created a special position just for me:
. At last—my own private office with my name on the door! My primary duties now
consisted of filing and maintaining Henkel's intellectual property of U.S. origin
in numerous countries around the world.
All employees in Henkel's Law Department were expected to speak and read German,
but some of my co-workers found that the local community college courses moved
too fast for them to keep up with. Using my old college textbooks, I spent my spare
time tutoring these co-workers in German at a more comfortable pace. These wonderful
women encouraged me to become a professional educator.
Although I enjoyed my work in the Law Department, including my position as captain
of our bowling team, I soon reached another plateau. Then Henkel offered to send
me to law school at company expense. Due my lack of technical expertise, however,
a career as a patent attorney was not possible. Instead, Henkel would move me into
corporate law—contracts, mergers, and acquisitions—ugh. Telling Henkel "Thanks,
but no thanks," I resigned and relocated to Washington, DC, where I hoped to join
one of the many firms that specialize in intellectual property.
A few months of temp work kept me solvent until one fateful day in 1990. Wistfully
perusing the classified ads in the
, I came across a job listing that changed my life.
Salisbury State University
, a small college located on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, was advertising for
Teaching Assistants. The primary requirement was a "major in English or the equivalent."
Finally, my French studies would prove useful to my career.
Once I visited the SSU campus, I knew that I had to pursue this opportunity. I
applied, they admitted me, and I have never looked back. Largely due to the influence
of my first true faculty mentor, Dr. Elizabeth Curtin, I decided to follow the
instead of the literature track. As Robert Frost put it, that choice "has made
all the difference."
SSU (now known as
) granted me an
M.A. in English
in May 1992. Shortly thereafter, I moved back to Mobile and spent the fall on
maternity leave. In January 1993, I began teaching composition (including an ESL
section) at the
University of South Alabama
The English Department at South soon made it clear to me that if I wanted full
benefits and the chance to teach anything besides first-year writing courses, then
I needed a doctorate. By the time I recognized this latest professional plateau,
I had missed that year's application deadlines for most Ph.D. programs. Nonetheless,
both Idaho State University and the
offered me admission and an assistantship. My ultimate choice arose from strictly
geographical considerations: as a single parent whose closest family members dwelled
in the Heart of Dixie, I would roll with the Crimson Tide.
At Alabama my primary concentration was in
Rhetoric and Composition
secondary specialty in Early American
materialized primarily because it seemed to be the least popular area among my
fellow graduate students. Along the way I earned extra income by
rating GED essays
, an opportunity that taught me a holistic approach to grading writing.
After five years of completing additional coursework, teaching lower-level English
courses, researching my dissertation, and raising a preschooler, I met my goal:
I graduated with a
in December 1998, with my son, Phelan, enrolled in kindergarten.
My dissertation ("Correctness and Craft:
Strunk and White's Elements of Style
and the American Character") examines the four (4) most significant editions (at
the time) of
The Elements of Style
, exploring the book's theoretical assumptions, historical context, critical reception,
and significance as part of American cultural history. I may publish it someday—perhaps
around 2018, the centennial of the book's original publication. For now, though,
I'm less interested in scholarly research than I am in becoming a more effective
hired me as an Instructor in the summer of 1998. Since then, I have advanced to
Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, and finally to
full Professor as of
Fully tenured as of
, I served as chair of our Department of English from that point until June 2007.
For three years I was the faculty advisor to our
student newspaper, The Hilltop News
, and I
the campus Writing Center
from Fall 2000 until Fall 2012. Beginning in Fall 2007, I accepted the additional
overseeing the Tutoring Center
. In February 2009, these two responsibilities merged into a single operation,
Writing and Tutoring
, located in the Moshell Learning Center at the Frank and Laura Lewis Library.
Effective August 2012, LaGrange College re-structured its academic units. At that
time I became the
Chair of the Department of Humanities
, which encompasses our programs in English, religion and philosophy, and modern
languages. In order to take on this increase in responsibility, I stepped down
from my position as Director of the Writing and Tutoring Center.
Within the world of English, my
include introductory and advanced composition, literary journalism, argumentation,
writing across the curriculum, introductory literature, and American studies. I
hold memberships in the
of Teachers of English (NCTE)
Writing Center Association (SWCA)
, and the
. I am also a member of two honor societies:
Sigma Tau Delta (English)
Omicron Delta Kappa (leadership).
Beyond my primary work as a teacher of writing, my scholarly interests are eclectic
and too numerous to list. For example, ever the language fanatic,
I took two semesters of Beginning Japanese, which I put to good use during my
recent sabbatical in Japan. From mid-September 2008 through the end of January
2009, I lived in Ōmiya (a suburb of Tōkyō) and taught writing and 20
-century American nonfiction at our sister institution, Seigakuin University—a
truly unforgettable opportunity.
All in all, my teaching has been informed by my nine years in the business world,
my ten years or so of post-secondary education, and my five decades of life experience.
As for the convoluted path of my life, Bilbo Baggins summed it up nicely:
"Roads go ever ever on…."