Paula V Smith
Director, Purposeful Risk Engagement Project
Paula V. Smith joined the faculty of Grinnell College in 1987. She is a writer whose poems and short fiction appear in literary journals like Flyway, Red Cedar Review, North American Review, and the Bellevue Literary Review. Translation rights to her novel, The Painter's Muse, were sold in 2008 to several foreign publishers. Smith has been awarded residencies and fellowships from the Communication Arts Institute, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts (VCCA), and the Ragdale Foundation. She was the winner of the 2006 Evolution Poetry Prize sponsored by the Society for the Study of Evolution (SSE) and a finalist in other contests including the 2007 Ruth Stone Prize in Poetry, 2006 War Poetry Contest, and 2005 Stickman Review Fiction Contest. Her collaborative work in poetry with composers, photographers, and other artists has appeared in multiple venues, including a commissioned choral work for the Iowa Sesquicentennial (1996). Smith studied creative writing and music at the Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan. She went on to earn degrees from Swarthmore College (B.A.) and Cornell University (M.F.A., Ph.D.). At Cornell, her creative-writing thesis director was Alison Lurie. Smith wrote her Ph.D. thesis on "The Library and the Tea Table: Virginia Woolf and the Fiction of Henry James." She went on to publish portions of her doctoral research (articles on Woolf, James, and Oscar Wilde) in scholarly journals including The Henry James Review. At Grinnell, Smith's teaching has included fiction workshops, gender and women's studies, Humanities 101 (Homer and Fifth-Century Athens), a first-year tutorial on utopian literature and another on Anglo-Saxon poetry, and upper-level English seminars on Virginia Woolf and other experimental women writers of the twentieth century (Stein, Lessing, Kincaid, Winterson). Given the opportunity to teach in Grinnell's London program, Smith developed courses on the history of the personal diary and the British schoolchild in nineteenth- and twentieth-century fiction. Contributing to her administrative experience, Smith has served as chair of the English department, as director of the visiting writers program, as a member elected at-large to the Executive Council, and as associate dean of the college. During Smith's term as associate dean, the faculty voted to institute the Mentored Advanced Project (MAP) program, representing the first major college-wide curricular reform in over three decades. As associate dean Smith also helped to establish three new academic centers (Humanities, International Studies, and Prairie Studies) as well as the Mellon Postdoctoral Fellows Program at the college.