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Faculty Spotlight


Emily Johnson

Dr. David Scaer is a twelve year veteran of the French department. With a penchant for Rabelais and a way with words, his classes are anything but boring.

Dr. Scaer graduated with an undergraduate degree in medieval to early modern French from Hope College, then went on to earn his PhD in  French Literature (16th-century poetics) and Early-Modern Musicology, which he calls a tool for learning. He also spent a year teaching in Nantes, a city he calls his overseas hometown.

Dr. Scaer’s love of Rabelais began in grad school when he was first introduced to Rabelais’ works. He says it was an eye opener to read something so functionally free with language, as nothing was inappropriate for Rabelais.

Recently, Dr. Scaer has been indulging in his passion for writing. He says it gives him a lot of time to just think, and since the summer of 2010 he has completed four novels. They are all written with a Rabelaisian esoteric because what else could you expect from a Rabelais fanatic? His latest, Passacaglia, is a feat of literature, written in bilingual sonnets.

This semester, Dr. Scaer is teaching a small class on Paleography, the study of ancient writings. He and his students meet at Mill Mountain to analyze and translate ancient works. Of the work, Dr. Scaer says the best way to explain it is, “you don’t do it til you do it.” In other words, everything just suddenly clicks and you are translating ancient writing. Next semester, you can join Dr. Scaer for a French literary translation course, where you can hone your analytical skills. He is also teaching an INQ on Rabelais. In addition, Dr. Scaer is taking a May Term class to Paris, which he says will be a life changing experience.

Dr. Scaer has been at Roanoke since attaining his PhD. His absolute favorite aspect of the school is the freedom he has in the classroom. For example, his classes have tested a trebuchet he built on the back quad. Many students enjoyed the trebuchet so much they wrote about it in their evaluations. He also loves the variety of people at Roanoke and the chance to teach more than just French. He can also pass on his love for Rabelais to his students, and teach them the art of paleography.

Dr. Scaer is a skilled instructor in more than just the French language. He teaches students how to excel at life through the scope of his passions.