Glenn Craig, M.D., is well acquainted with the choices one must make upon retiring, but how he has chosen to spend his golden years might differ from what commonly follows a lifetime of satisfying and impactful employment. After having served for nearly 30 years as a physician, Craig is now pursuing a Ph.D. in The University of Tulsa’s Department of English and Creative Writing.
Prior to enrolling, Craig had been living in New Zealand for two years, while working as a physician. “As retirement drew nearer, I kept asking myself ‘what’s next?’” said Craig. It was a phone conversation in October 2020 with Chapman Professor of English Lars Engle that inspired him to embark on doctoral studies.
While for some it might seem a bit odd to shift from science to literary studies, Craig has had a lifelong interest in both fields. “I’m a proponent of science and humanities alike,” he said; “I find enjoyment in studying both.”
Craig’s transformation from medical man into full-time graduate student is not his first major life/career transition. Prior to enrolling in the Medical College of Ohio at the University of Toledo (from which he received his medical degree in 1991), Craig attended the San Francisco Theological Seminary, where he gained a master’s in divinity in 1974 and a doctorate in ministry in 1979. For the next 10 years, Craig worked as a minister for the Presbyterian Church (USA).
Milton and personal freedom
Now at TU, once he has completed the required coursework, Craig intends to focus his dissertation on the early modern English poet John Milton, best known today as the author of the epic Paradise Lost. Craig’s fascination with Milton is longstanding. In fact, he traces the roots of it to his undergraduate days at Carleton University in Minnesota, from which he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in 1970.
“Milton was a Puritan and a protestant thinker, as well as a political activist,” remarked Craig, who is intrigued, in particular, by Milton’s political and social writings. “He called for the execution of King Charles I in Tenure of Kings and Magistrates, in which he argued the people’s right to execute a guilty sovereign and boldly called for Charles’ execution, which Parliament carried out in January 1649.”
Craig is also drawn to Milton’s thinking on divorce and free will, matters that continue to pique the interest of many 21st-century scholars. As he considers the specific topic for his dissertation, Craig finds himself drawn to understanding Milton’s writings within the context of the present. “Milton was engaged in one of the most important theological debates at the time — free will,” said Craig, “and it’s the personal freedom aspect that I want to explore for my dissertation.”
A welcoming academic home
Craig’s experience thus far in his new academic home has proven to be a refreshing change of pace. “Everyone’s been very welcoming,” noted Craig, “Most importantly, I haven’t experienced age discrimination. It’s a great environment for those wanting to pursue academia later in life. TU has been very responsive and accommodating, as have all my professors and fellow students.”
Have you considered returning to academia to pursue your passion for English language and literature? If so, a graduate degree in English at TU awaits!