Meet Dr. Lincoln Konkle!

When you think of Star Wars, the first thing that comes to mind is light sabers, Luke SkyWalker, Darth Vader, Han Solo, Chewbacca, R2D2, C3PO, and Princess Leia. However,  Dr. Lincoln Konkle, an English professor at TCNJ, uses Star Wars to teach students about religious studies and The Vietnam War in his freshman seminar course entitled "Star Wars Films & Adaptations."  Konkle connects religion to Star Wars in various ways. Consider the phrase: “May the Force be with you”. Konkle says it’s like saying, “May God be with you.” I believe that the “Force” is an allegory of "God.”

Konkle, has been on staff at The College of New Jersey for  27 years (and counting), not only does he teach the ever popular course on Star Wars, he also teaches LIT 255  and WGS 255. Dr.Konkle is also a scholar of dramatic literature. “One professional high was the publication of my book, Thornton Wilder and the Puritan Narrative Tradition which helped me get promoted to full professor and organizing the First International Thornton Wilder Conference here at TCNJ in Fall 2008.  It was a great three day-conference, with 40 presenters, some of them famous theatre artists (e.g., Edward Albee).” Dr. Konkle said. 

Dr. Konkle is a strong believer in the FSP courses. When Dr. Konkle went on sabbatical after teaching a Bruce Springsteen class for five years, he didn’t expect it to be unsuccessful.“ When I was in college, a friend of mine played his song “Born to Run”and I thought, “Wow, not only are his songs kick-ass rock ‘n roll, but his lyrics are literary; this is Rock ‘n’ Roll for English majors!” That was when I bought every album of his. So, I took a sabbatical after teaching a Bruce Springsteen FSP class for 5 years and I used it to write a book on his songs. Basically, I analyzed the lyrics and wrote when there was a simile or a metaphor and the meaning behind it.” Professor Konkle added. Professor Konkle is currently working on  co-editing a book titled Edward Albee as Theatrical and Dramatic Innovator.

 Dr. Konkle is also a Big Bang Theory fan. “I’d have to say I resonate the most with Leonard. We both had a crappy childhood, and we both haven’t gotten the respect we deserve in our career. I wouldn’t say I’m completely like Leonard, but I do see myself in him.” Dr. Konkle said. “A professional low is that I can’t publish the book on Springsteen I wrote during my sabbatical because my request to reprint his lyrics was denied. I don’t know if it was because of his representatives or Bruce himself. As a result, I have to admit I’m not as into him as I once was.” Dr. Konkle said. He was able to bounce back from his sabbatical disappointment by looking at it in a different way. He wanted to use his sabbatical to tackle a passion project, which is something he did. He  currently teaches the Star Wars seminar class, which a student had said that they enjoyed it despite not being a Star Wars fan (according to Professor Kathleen Webber).  

With all careers, there are always challenges. “ When I was studying for my Masters at Kansas State University and later for my PHD in English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, I had to work while I was studying which made it harder. If I didn’t have to do that, it would’ve taken me less than 6 years to finish my PHD and less than 3 years to finish my Masters.” Professor Konkle said. 

During his teaching career,  Professor Konkle decided that teaching HS students was difficult due to their utter lack of motivation, which made him decide to start teaching college-aged students. According to Konkle, students are more likely to be motivated the older they are. One of Dr. Konkle’s favorite class to teach is his Star Wars FSP class. “I think everyone loves the hero and I know my favorite character when I first saw it was Luke. I also think that Darth Vader is one of the best villains in the cinematic universe. Not that I relate to him, but even in the animated series, the parts where Vader shows up are some of the best scenes.” Professor Konkle said.

One thing that students might not know about Dr. Konkle is that he wanted to learn about literature even when he was younger. When he realized he wanted to teach college students, he realized that he had to apply for a PHD program. Unfortunately, he had failed the test the first time around and as a result, he started to think of other possible careers if he didn’t pass the second time. “I would have gotten a master’s in library science so I could still work on a college campus with students (and faculty).” Dr. Konkle replied, thoughtfully. One of his favorite plays is “Hamlet.”

According to ratemyprofessor.com, Dr. Konkle is a really nice man. In addition to his love of Star Wars  he also loves Star Trek. If any of this sounds compelling to you, you should consider registering for one of his classes. This upcoming Fall semester, Professor Konkle is teaching his Star War FSP class, LIT 255, and WGS 255. Dr.Konkle’s word of advice to future college professors and college students in general is: “Don’t overreact when things don’t go the way you want, or when you fear something might not go well. Only the end of the world is the end of the world.

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