Before becoming Dean of the College, John Gatta served variously as professor, English Department Head, and Director of English Graduate Studies at the University of Connecticut. He did his undergraduate studies at Notre Dame and his doctoral work at Cornell. He has been a Woodrow Wilson Fellow and a Fulbright professor in Senegal; he has also taught at the University of Missouri and in South Africa.
Dean Gatta has published books and articles topics related to American literary and cultural history before 1900, on literature and environment, and on the interplay between religious faith and literary imagination. His first book, a critical study of the New England poet Edward Taylor, won the 1989 Academic Book-of-the-Year Award from the Conference on Christianity and Literature. His second book, American Madonna: Images of the Divine Woman in Literary Culture (Oxford University Press), was named an “outstanding academic book” for 1998 by editors of Choice. His latest book, also from Oxford University Press, is Making Nature Sacred: Literature, Religion, and Environment in America from the Puritans to the Present. In addition, he has published over fifty academic articles in book collections and in journals such as American Literature, Modern Language Quarterly, Philological Quarterly, New England Quarterly, and the Harvard Theological Review.
Among the courses he has taught at the College are offerings in freshman English, American Environmental Literature, and the Spirit and Forms of Anglicanism. He has also taught courses for Sewanee’s graduate-level summer program in the School of Letters. His favorite recreational activities include hiking, reading, singing, and playing instrumental music.