John Charles Bean, PhD

PhD, English

Professor Emeritus, English

Phone: 206-296-5421

John Bean CV (PDF)

Teaching and Research Interests

Interests: composition/rhetoric, Shakespeare, Renaissance literature, compositional and pedagogical theory, writing across the curriculum
Current and Recent Courses: Freshman seminars on gender identity or on science and public policy; Shakespeare; Renaissance Heroism; mid-level writing courses; practical grammar/editing
Dream or Future Courses: I love every course I teach at Seattle University. I particularly enjoy teaching our 300-level “context courses,” where we help mid-career English majors learn to conduct literary research, to problematize interpretation, and to “think like a literary critic.”


I grew up in a small town in Idaho where my dad owned a telephone company. Before coming to Seattle University in 1986, I taught for thirteen years in Montana (at both the College of Great Falls and Montana State University). In the early part of my career, I focused my scholarship on Renaissance literature, publishing articles on Shakespeare and Spenser, but by the early 1980s my scholarly focus morphed to rhetoric/composition with a special interest in writing-across-the-curriculum and all forms of pedagogical theory and practice connected to active learning, critical thinking, and the teaching of undergraduate research. I am the co-author of several textbooks on composition and argument (with my colleague Dr. June Johnson), and I am the author of a widely used and cited book on writing and critical thinking entitled Engaging Ideas: The Professor’s Guide to Writing, Critical Thinking, and Active Learning in the Classroom, which has been translated into both Dutch and Chinese. I am often asked to give faculty workshops on writing and critical thinking at institutions from around the world. My most recent scholarship has focused on assessment of student learning and on teaching rhetorical use of numbers (with Seattle University colleagues from science, finance, economics, and math). Between my graduation from Stanford and the start of graduate school, I served in Vietnam as an army lieutenant. I commute by ferry from Vashon Island, where my wife and I built a home in 1987. I’m an avid Mariner’s baseball fan, and my wife and I like to bike, sea kayak, and spend time with our four grown children and their families, all of whom live in the Seattle area.
B.A. with Honors in English, Stanford University, 1965
Ph.D. University of Washington , 1972