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Department of English and Philosophy Announces the Retirement of Professor Brian Attebery

April 21, 2022

Brian Attebery

Brian Attebery is retiring after decades of accomplishments as a Professor in the Department of English and Philosophy at Idaho State University.

Professor Brian Attebery came to ISU in 1982, after completing an undergraduate degree in English at The College of Idaho and master’s and doctoral degrees in American Civilization at Brown University. He directed the ISU American Studies program for many years and also administered a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) focusing on humanities education in smaller communities in Southeast Idaho. Other major grants have included an NEH Summer Seminar in 1989, a State Board Research Grant in 1991, a Fulbright Teaching and Research Fellowship to Sweden in 1988 and a Leverhulme Visiting Professorship at the University of Glasgow in Scotland in 2019. He was named ISU’s Distinguished Researcher in 1997 after thrice being named one of the Outstanding Researchers. He has edited eight books and written six, including his most recent, “Fantasy: How It Works,” which is coming out from Oxford University Press in June of this year. In 2021, he received a World Fantasy Award for editing the Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts.

During his time at ISU, he has been involved in most forms of faculty governance, serving on the Library Committee, the Research Council, the Graduate Council, the Undergraduate Curriculum Council, and the former Women’s Studies Committee. Within the Department, he has been on all the committees (many more than once) and served two terms as Director of Graduate Studies. He taught cello for the Music Department for many years and was principal cellist in the Idaho State Civic Symphony from 1991-2018. Outside the University, he has reviewed grants for the NEH and the American Council of Learned Societies, served on the committees for the national Tiptree and Pilgrim Awards, and is increasingly called on as an outside examiner for Ph.D. theses and dissertations from Australia to Sweden. Professor Attebery was recently granted the status of Emeritus Professor.

Jessica Winston, Chair of the Department of English and Philosophy, observed, “Dr. Attebery has been an inspiring and supportive member of the faculty for decades.” She added, “His research career is a model for so many, and his pathbreaking scholarship in the field of the literature of the fantastic will continue to shape the field for decades to come.”

Professor Attebery advised numerous graduate theses and dissertations. One recent English Ph.D. graduate, Dr. Anelise Farris, currently Assistant Professor at the College of Coastal Georgia, commented, “Dr. Attebery is a remarkable scholar who also happens to be a fantastic mentor. He helped me take what was only a half-formed idea and, through thoughtful guidance and support, turn it into a dissertation that I am proud of. Even though he's retiring, I'm confident that he will continue to inspire budding sci-fi scholars.”

Another student, Paul Williams, who completed his M.A. thesis with Dr. Attebery and is now in the Ph.D. program, described Dr. Attebery as “a nurturing teacher who cares about students’ intellectual self-reliance, without any sense of ego.” For example, Williams continued, “An early paper of mine liberally referenced Brian’s own scholarship. When I asked for help revising it for a conference, Dr. Attebery modestly suggested, ‘You quote this Attebery guy too much’ and encouraged me to take ownership of my work. As my thesis advisor, he offered plenty of encouragement and guidance that empowered me to navigate roadblocks, and helped me discover alternative and interesting avenues of inquiry. Dr. Attebery’s mentorship has helped me carve a space for myself as both a scholar and teacher.”

Dr. Brian Attebery is married to fellow English Professor Dr. Jennifer Attebery. They met in middle school and have been married since 1975. Thhey have two adult children, Stina Attebery (partner Josh Pearson), who teaches science and technology studies at California Polytechnic State University, and Jess Attebery, a Pocatello LGBTQIA+ advocate. Brian and Jennifer plan to remain in Pocatello in retirement.

A retirement party, which will also honor the career of retiring Professor Jennifer Attebery, will be held on Wednesday, April 27, 3:30 -5:30pm at Portneuf Valley Brewing, 615 S. 1st Street, Pocatello, ID 83201.


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