English Literature Professor Nora Johnson Balances Teaching and Ministry

Nora Johnson

Philadelphia Gay News: Faith Focus: The Rev. Dr. Nora Johnson

The Rev. Dr. Nora Johnson is used to being busy — as both a priest at Saint Mark’s Episcopal Church in Philadelphia and a professor of English at Swarthmore College.

Johnson, 53, oversees the adult education and formation ministries at Saint Mark’s, teaches a class for the Christian sacraments of conformation and baptism, runs Sunday forum and regularly presides at normal church services.

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Johnson said her experience as a teacher at Swarthmore has enabled her to be a better pastor in certain ways.

“As a teacher, I get to think with people and explore new ideas with them. I’m used to listening to them, getting inside their own ideas and figuring out what it is they are trying to move towards,” Johnson said. “Teaching, writing and literature is very pastoral in a way.”

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“I love both of these full-time vocations. I feel called to do both,” she said. “Bridging the academic world and religious world is important work to me.” 

Read the full profile at Philadelphia Gay News.

Johnson specializes in the Renaissance, particularly Shakespeare and theater history, though she also teaches courses on Milton, on comedy as a genre, on 20th-century lesbian fiction, and other topics. She is the author of The Actor as Playwright in Early Modern Drama and has also published on medieval plays. She is currently at work on a book entitled Laughing at Shakespeare: Vaudeville, Burlesque, and America's Shakespeareans.