5 Things: Dr. Barry Devine

Dr. Barry Devine’s career as a radio broadcaster was short-lived, and Heidelberg is all the better for it. “I decided that was not the career for me, so I went back to school,” he says. As he pursued his second undergrad degree in English at the University of Washington, he realized what he really enjoys is literature. “And it turns out you can do a lot with an English degree.” When he finished his second degree, he met his future wife, Heleana Theixos, and they set off on grad school adventures that eventually brought both of them to Heidelberg.

The genesis of a literature professor

James Joyce’s ‘”Ulysses” – one of the greatest and most influential works in world literature – is the framework for Barry’s graduate study that took him to University College Dublin in Ireland for his master’s degree. “There’s not a better place to study ‘Ulysses,’’’ Barry says. While there, he attended a presentation by Professor Luca Crispi on genetic criticism – the study of manuscripts and all of the processes that lead to the point of publication – which influenced the rest of his studies and now, his teaching. He hasn’t stopped studying manuscripts ever since. In fact, he is currently teaching a class on Joyce at Heidelberg in which students examine “Ulysses” and will be learning the processes the author used over so many years to build the novel.

Home at Heidelberg

As a Ph.D. student at the University of Miami in Florida, Barry recalls hearing colleagues rave about their amazing experiences and close collaborations with students at small, liberal arts colleges. “That’s what I wanted,” he says. And it’s exactly what he and Heleana found when they came to Heidelberg three years ago. Now, he’s the professor who gets to make an impact by collaborating with students on research projects, traveling with them to conferences and helping them with grad school applications. Last month, he accompanied a group of his Irish Novel students to the Midwest Regional American Conference for Irish Studies at Creighton University in Nebraska.

First-gen opportunities

As a first-generation college student himself, Barry has a unique understanding of the challenges that can bring. So he’s focused on helping connect first-gen students to opportunities and resources they may not even know exist. “Sometimes they just need someone to listen,” he says. Other times, recognizing them for excellence is a needed lift. This spring, Barry will be instrumental in providing a new academic opportunity for this group. He’ll be the faculty advisor to the new Tri-Alpha National Honor Society for high-achieving first-generation students. He’s also planning to launch the Rock Creek Review, an undergraduate journal of academic literary studies. He’ll work with junior English majors to collect academic papers from across the country, which will be edited and published here at Heidelberg, starting next school year.

Flip or flop

For Barry and Heleana, it’s definitely flip. As a source of income during grad school down south, they learned from the ground up how to flip houses. They were rookies when they started, relying on a Home Depot 1-2-3 how-to guide. “We were not good at it when we started,” he says. “We had to learn how to do everything.” Eventually, they turned a profit on their business by flipping six houses – the last one in 2008, just before the housing market crashed. Today, they’re experts on home renovations – so much so that they’re regulars at Lowe’s as they get ready to tackle a major kitchen reno at their home.

Where the heart is

Grad school took Barry and Heleana all over the U.S. – from Seattle to Hawaii to Italy to Dublin, Ireland. Despite all of the great places they’ve lived, there’s one place that will always have his heart: his home state of Oregon. “These last couple of weeks of fall remind me of Oregon,” he says. “I’m probably the only one around here who actually gets happy when it rains.”

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