John Sheehy




B.A., Montana State University, 1987
M.A., University of Washington, 1993
Ph.D., University of Washington, 1997

At Marlboro Since


Headshot of John Sheehy

“Writing is absolutely necessary if you want to know something,” says John Sheehy, who came to Marlboro after teaching composition and literature at University of Washington. He explains that writing is an essential part of the learning process because it forces people to organize and present their thoughts with a discipline, something people don’t always do when they are simply reading or talking about what they’ve read. John’s literature seminars cover everything from Faulkner to Emerson, Toni Morrison, Norman MacLean and Cormac McCarthy.

Teaching Philosophy

John helps students determine the strengths of their writing, whether those strengths are found in academic papers or emails to friends, and then capitalize on them, using them as a basis for improving all facets of their writing. “Good writing comes from everywhere,” he says. “Most bad writing comes from bad teaching.” John maintains that email writing discussion groups are an excellent forum for students to critique each others’ work and to present their own. “In email,” he says, “people are unconsciously particular about their tone, content, word choice—essentially their delivery—and they are very aware of their audience. These are really the foundations of all good writing. The job of the writing student is to become aware of these aspects of their writing and to learn how to control them.”

Scholarly Activities

John had a story included in the book The Good Men Project: Real Stories from the Front Lines of Modern Manhood, edited by Tom Matlack. The book features personal essays by a broad range of men, describing their challenges, triumphs, and life-changing moments; John’s story, “Skeff,” describes his relationship with his father. He also had a nonfiction story, titled “Red Line,” published in the fall 2009 issue of Fourth Genre.

Sponsored Plans

Intentions and operations

Logan Davis, 2017

The things I never said

Lindsay Stevens, 2017


John Sheehy Shares Workshop Insights in Chronicle

John Sheehy, professor of writing and literature, reflects on Marlboro’s Summer Writing Intensive in his editorial “Taking the Flight to the page,” which appeared in a recent edition of The Chronicle of Higher Education.

John Sheehy Publishes in Eclectica

Marlboro literature and writing professor John Sheehy is well known in the community for his frank and heartfelt writing style. His writing has once again reached a broader audience in the July/August issue of Eclectica (Vol. 19, No. 3), an online literary magazine for discerning [...]