Hilltop Views

Literature professor provides first edition education for all students

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You may recognize Dr. Alan Altimont on campus by a few markers. I think of him as a mix of Robert De Niro and Santa whilst wearing a fashionable bowtie–he’s been into wearing bowties for the past 15 years now.

Altimont teaches English Literature at St. Edward’s University. He has been a professor on the hilltop for over 30 years now.

Altimont received his Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from Georgetown University as well as a doctorate in English Literature from the University of Minnesota.

Here at St. Edward’s, Altimont teaches courses on Playwriting, American Literature II and a Cultural Foundations class called the Book of Love as well as upper-level poetry on occasion regarding Modern-American poets in 1920s New York and works by poets Mary Oliver and Wendell Berry.

Altimont was inspired to take up teaching at a collegiate level during his undergraduate experience at Georgetown University. There was appeal in talking “about all this fun stuff that people really care about,” Altimont said. Having a mutual interest in learning with others was a much more appealing route than becoming a lawyer like his family elders had hoped.

Altimont’s most influential undergraduate professor at Georgetown was teacher and poet Roland Flint. He admired the tremendously popular academic for being quite real and appealing with his students. Flint liked to memorize poems and “could probably recite poems by heart for an hour,” Altimont said. Altimont was motivated to later attend the University of Minnesota because Flint had studied there as well.

Another professor Altimont admired was Ted Wright, whom he studied under while getting his PhD at the University of Minnesota. Altimont described him as soft-spoken, “thorough but kind,” and truly caring about his students’ success in life.

When outside of class, Altimont enjoys reading scientific books written for mass audiences. He’s read up on cosmology, evolution, ancient history and archaeology. Altimont also has a fascination for Persian epic poetry from the 10th to 11th centuries.

Altimont is currently reading “Vis and Ramin” by Fakhraddin Gorgani and “The Conference of the Birds” by Farid Un-Din Attar among others.

More recently in his career, Altimont has brushed up on his Latin in order to translate medieval poetry. Altimont’s particular interest in Persian poetry led him to translate verses by a priest named Marbode of Rennes (also known as Marbod or Marbodius). Altimont is translating his original works from Latin into modern English.

Hopefully, the next time you see a bowtie and fez combo on campus, you’ll recognize it as Altimont’s trademark apparel.

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Literature professor provides first edition education for all students