An (Abridged) 43 Questions with Dr. Denise Baker

An (Abridged) 43 Questions with Dr. Denise Baker

Posted on August 11, 2022

Dr. Denise Baker is a beloved medievalist literature scholar, with the majority of her work focusing on Julian of Norwich and the Middle English Mystics, and Langland’s Piers Plowman. She served in various positions throughout the department and college, as well as being the commencement speaker at UNCG’s first ever December commencement, in 1996. Dr. Baker retired in 2019.

Learn more about Dr. Baker here!

1.What is your favorite time of day?

I love the very early morning around 6 am (probably the time Scott goes to bed), when I can gradually ease myself into the day.

2. What was the best experience you had as a member of the English Department?

I have fond memories of the comradery of the faculty when people were in their offices more often and we had more time to get to know each other as colleagues and friends.

3.What are you most excited about these days?

Travel, especially since Covid had taken away two years of the time since I retired. I am going on a cruise to Scandinavia and the Baltic in August. Unfortunately, due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, St. Petersburg, Helsinki, and Estonia had to be cut from the itinerary.

5. What is one thing people do not know about you?

I’ll never tell.

7. Window or aisle seat?


8. What is your current TV show obsession?

Not current, but I hope there’s another season of The Chair.

9. What is the most adventurous thing you have done in your life?

I drove from  Michigan to California to enroll in the MA program at UC Santa Barbara without knowing anyone there. That move changed my life.

15. Which pilgrim in Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales would you be and why?

The Franklin because I think he understands the need for partners to respect each other in marriage.

16. What book did you most recently finish?

Forrester’s Howard’s End

18. If you could switch lives with one person for a day, who would it be?

Julian of Norwich, but I definitely would only want to switch for one day.

19. What is one book you will admit you have never read but probably should?

There are a lot more books than one that haven’t read but should.

20. What is the one thing you wish you knew at age 19?

How many surprises life had for me and how quickly it goes by. (Now I sound old!)

21. If you could live anywhere, where would it be?

I’ve never been there, but New Zealand seems like a good place to live.

24. What is your favorite type of food?

Any food that I don’t have to prepare

25. Favorite snack?

Ice cream (but more a dessert than a snack)

27. What is your favorite movie?

Four Weddings and a Funeral

28. What is a superpower you wish you had?

The ability to transport myself from place to place both in space and in time

31. Which movie makes you laugh the hardest?

Four Weddings and a Funeral

38. What do you consider your greatest career achievement?

I hope that over 45 years I helped a few students to better understand themselves and their world through the literature they studied.

39. What do you enjoy the most about the English Department?

I enjoyed the students because most of them came from modest backgrounds and they wanted to improve their future lives. They were not arrogant as more economically privileged students sometimes are.

40. What are you working on now?

I’m working on some articles on Langland’s Piers Plowman, the topic of my dissertation and a life-long obsession shared by very few.

41. Cats or dogs?


42. What are your future plans?

I hope to finish a long article about Piers Plowman that I’ve been working on for years and to travel to many exciting places.

43. What advice do you have for students?

Even though there are many demands on your time as a student, take your classes seriously because what you learn will serve you well throughout your life, both professionally and personally.