From Literature to True Crimes: One Professor’s Journey to YSU

Suzanne Diamond’s 20-year career has been shaped by 19th-century literature and a love for learning as a first-generation college student. Photo courtesy of Suzanne Diamond

By Jessica Stamp
Jambar Contributor

For Suzanne Diamond, English professor at Youngstown State University, the journey to YSU was a long and challenging trip, but her love for teaching and education helped her overcome the difficulties.

Diamond has many publications on film and British literature, including an essay on Aileen Wuornos, arguably the most famous female serial killer. She also co-edited a freshman reader titled “Literacies: Reading, Writing, Interpretation” and wrote a scholarly essay, “Food for Thought or ‘Mental Chewing Gum’: Truman Capote’s Crime Adaptations and Cultural Memory Work.”

Suzanne Diamond’s 20-year career has been shaped by 19th-century literature and a love for learning as a first-generation college student. Photo courtesy of Suzanne Diamond

What Diamond’s publications have in common is her interest in true crime and its adaptation and function as a culture memory project.

 “A culture story or myth-making … students shouldn’t think of mythology as something that happened in ancient times. Myth-making is something that we continue to do,” Diamond said. “Your ‘self’ is an ongoing story. We are stories we tell ourselves, so tell yourself a good one.”

Diamond has been teaching at YSU for around 20 years.

She teaches 19th-century British literature, introduction to film study, mythology in literature and some general education courses. 

“I’ve always had an attraction to education … and I knew college was a place where I came alive,” Diamond said.

Diamond worked a series of entry-level jobs before becoming a first generation college student. At the age of 26, Diamond went to college at Rutgers University in New Jersey, where she earned her master’s and doctorate degrees in English. 

“In English, I always felt like there was somebody critical on the other side,” Diamond said. “It’s not always fun to be criticized with your work … But you know there was always somebody on the other side of an essay trying to make me better and I realized that they were helping me.” 

Throughout Diamond’s education, she saw many forms of teaching.

“I was always like observing my teachers and seeing what things that they did that were constructive and what things that really didn’t work or even really destructive,” she said. 

Diamond said she tries to use the best of her past experiences as a student when teaching.

 “Teachers who saw me as an ‘A’ student even when I felt like I’m ‘B+’ level. I would be that ‘A’ student because they saw that in me. They saw me as capable,” she said.

Jeff Buchanan, acting chairman of the English and world languages department, said Diamond contributes to the department by being heavily involved with the students.

“She knows where she wants to get students and she’s pretty careful about developing assignments that serve those goals and help students get to where she’s going,” he said.

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