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Karen Prior

Professor of English

(434) 592-3918


  • Ph.D., State University of New York at Buffalo
  • M.A., State University of New York at Buffalo
  • B.A., Daemen College



Karen Swallow Prior, Professor of English, earned her Ph.D. and M.A. at the State University of New York at Buffalo and her B.A. at Daemen College.


Her scholarly work has appeared in 1650-1850: Ideas, Aesthetics, and Inquiries in the Early Modern Era; The Shandean; The Scriblerian and various literary encyclopedias.


Prior received the Chancellor’s Award for Teaching Excellence in 2013, was named Faculty of the Year by the Multicultural Enrichment Center in 2010, received the Sigma Tau Delta (LU chapter) Teacher of the Year Award, and was the 2003 recipient of the President’s Award for Teaching Excellence.  She is a member of the graduate faculty and teaches British literature primarily, with a specialty in eighteenth-century British literature, which she loves for its emphasis on philosophy, ethics, aesthetics, community, and the “middle way.”


Her books include Fierce Convictions: The Extraordinary Life of Hannah More – Poet, Reformer, Abolitionist (Thomas Nelson 2014) and a literary and spiritual memoir, Booked: Literature in the Soul of Me (T. S. Poetry Press 2012). Her writing has appeared at Christianity Today, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, The Gospel Coalition, Break Point, Think Christian, Comment, Relevant, and Books and Culture. She has spoken at numerous writing conferences including the Festival of Faith and Writing and the Roanoke Regional Writers Conference.


Prior is a Research Fellow with the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, a Senior Fellow with Liberty University’s Center for Apologetics and Cultural Engagement, and a member of the Faith Advisory Council of the Humane Society of the United States.


Courses Taught

  • Christian Literature
  • Women’s Literature
  • The English Novel
  • Eighteenth Century English Literature
  • Jonathan Swift
  • English Literature I
  • English Literature II
  • Literature and Composition
  • Grammar and Composition
  • Freshman Seminar Honors Courses


Scholarly Publications

  • “Hannah More, the Didactic Tradition, and the Rise of the English Novel.” 1650-1850: Ideas, Aesthetics, and Inquiries in the Early Modern Era 9 (2003) AMS.
  • Hannah More’s Coelebs in Search of a Wife: A Review of Criticism and a New Analysis. Lewiston, NY: Mellen, 2003.
  • “Hannah More: An Eighteenth-Century Feminist for the Twenty-First Century.” Conference of the Southeastern American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies, University of Alabama, March 2, 2001.
  • Hannah More and the Evangelical Influence on the English Novel. Ph.D. Dissertation, SUNY at Buffalo, 1999.
  • Common Ground on Abortion Clinic Activism. Syracuse University, Program on the Analysis and Resolution of Conflicts, Occasional Papers Series, No. 1, November 1998.


Other Works

  • Research and Analysis of  Coelebs in Search of a Wife Seminar, Center for Teaching Excellence, Liberty University, May 2003.
  • “Hannah More” Lecture. American Association of University Women (Lynchburg, Va. Chapter) April 17, 2002.
  • “Truth in the Postmodern World” Commencement Address, Charles Grandison Finney High School, Buffalo, NY June 22, 2002.
  • “Absolutes in Beauty and Love” Interview, Soul Café, Lynchburg, VA, February 13, 2002.
  •  “Teaching Truth through Fiction.” Faculty Chapel, Liberty University, February 2001.
  • “The Problem of Plagiarism.” Faculty Workshop, Liberty University, August 7, 2001. “A Perspective on Truth.” www.osbd.org 2002.
  •  “Abortion and the Theater of the Absurd.” www.osbd.org 2001.
  • “The Parable of the Mantle Maker.” www.osbd.org 2001.
  • “Right Behind Grisham.” World, July 1, 2000.
  • “Are Additional Laws Needed to Restrain Anti-Abortion Activists? Conflicting Views.” Insight on the News. February 15, 1999.
  • “Education.” Christian Observer 177.9 (September 1999): 11-12.
  • “Works in Progress: The Stories of Four Former Teenage Mothers.” Culture Wars 2.2 (September 1996): 7-9.
  • Various newspaper commentaries


Community Service

  • Member of Rivermont Avenue Baptist Church and reader for its Celtic Christian worship service
  • Member of Board of Directors of Blue Ridge Pregnancy Center