Bermuda and the bard: a look at English professor Dr. Macfie

A beloved pair in Sewanee’s English department: Dr. Pamela Macfie and her dog, Bermuda. Photo by Robert Mohr (C’21).

By Robert Mohr
Staff Writer

They’re an easy pair to spot. A woman and a dog walking through the halls of Gailor. Students smile and harmonize “awwwww” as the duo passes by. For many, Bermuda, the dog, and Dr. Pamela Macfie, the woman, are a regular feature of trips to Gailor.

When asked about how long she’s taught at Sewanee, Macfie chuckles, “Since dinosaurs roamed the Earth.” In reality, it’s only been 35 years. Hailing from Baltimore, Maryland, the self-confessed Orioles fan and self-described “non-Southerner” came to Sewanee in 1984, following her time at Duke University for graduate school.

Bermuda came along much later. She was rescued by Macfie’s son while he was studying at the University of Montana. He rehabilitated, trained, and socialized the dog, who was already named Bermuda, before entrusting Dr. Macfie with her for three months while he hiked the Camino de Santiago in Spain. Three months quickly turned into the past five years and at this point, Dr. Macfie isn’t giving her up.

She describes Bermuda’s temperament as “easygoing but whimsical.” These traits serve Bermuda well in the world of acting, as she has starred in several student productions of Shakespeare scenes for her mother’s class. However, it appears this celebrity status has made her distrusting of paparazzi. When asked for a picture, Bermuda stretches, and then sits down facing away from the camera. Only with poking and prodding from Macfie does she decide to turn towards the lens.

Bermuda does love Macfie though. Once, during a rare Christmas Sunday morning service at All Saints’, Bermuda was left in husband and University chaplain Tom Macfie’s (C’80) office. During the service, Macfie recalls hearing scraping, crashing, and then a crying sound. Moments later, Bermuda appeared in the nave, along with the coffee table she had been tethered to.

Besides her dog, Macfie also has a passion for Renaissance literature, specifically Shakespeare. Initially, she was skeptical of the Bard in high school, however her stint at Goucher College as a double major in English and Latin changed her opinion. Although she loves English, Macfie is also fascinated by the Classics. This fascination is reflected in her academic writing, which explores how writers, like Shakespeare interact with the Classics including: “The Sonnets and Narrative poems: Shakespeare, Ovid, and Surprise,” and “The Ovidian Recusatio in Marlowe’s Hero and Leander.”

As a professor, she enjoys teaching her Shakespeare classes and “Representative Masterpieces.” Representative Masterpieces, is in her own words, when “different faculty emphasize different texts from classical antiquity, the Middle Ages, and early modernity in this course, which celebrates the epic tradition. My students read Dante’s Divine Comedy and consider how Virgil’s Aeneid and Ovid’s Metamorphoses are recalled… and transformed… in Dante’s poetry of allusion.”

In the future, she would like to teach a class that examines how Shakespeare’s plays are portrayed in film, possibly as part of the film studies minor. However, she worries that students might feel overwhelmed by three separate Shakespeare classes.

On campus, Dr. Macfie enjoys the iced fruit tea from Stirling’s and her daily walk to the Cross. She loves “seeing the changes” from day to day and season to season.

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