Faculty Profile: John Naughton

Professor of Romance Languages and Literatures John Naughton was originally an English major, but “was always really interested in French.” Professor Naughton, who has been at Colgate since 1983, is also a Professor of University Studies. After growing up in Palo Alto, California, he earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Stanford University and an additional master’s and his doctorate at the University of California at Santa Cruz. After UCSC, Professor Naughton received a fellowship that would change the direction of his life. “I went to study at Yale and got a first experience of the Northeast,” Professor Naughton said. This experience prompted him to accept a teaching position at Colgate, where, he said, “it took me two decades to get used to the climate change.” Acting as the chair of CORE 151 for six years and Division Director of University Studies, Professor Naughton found that he was “enriched by the CORE curriculum.” “It’s wonderful to be engaged in the same enterprise the students are engaged in,” Naughton said. “I’ve learned so much from my colleagues being involved with the CORE.” Professor Naughton said he is also inspired by the faculty, which, he said “is so devoted to the students and is so stimulating to work with.” Smiling, he added that “Colgate kids are uniquely great kids to study with.” To that end, Professor Naughton has taught CORE 151, CORE 152 and CORE Distinction classes in addition to French language and literature classes. Apart from the work he does on campus, Professor Naughton is leading his fifth study group to Dijon, France, in the spring. In Dijon, students will study at the University of Burgundy. The “presence and richness of [Colgate’s] study groups…distinguishes us from other liberal arts schools our size,” says Professor Naughton. “It’s remarkable that Colgate has about 25 off-campus possibilities for students.” Professor Naughton says he feels that study groups are extremely important to the educational process. Study groups allow students and faculty to “bond in ways that are not quite possible on campus,” he says. Some of Professor Naughton’s scholarly research involves translating French literature into English, including “In the Shadow’s Light,” a book of poems by Yves Bonnefoy, the noted French poet. Professor Naughton takes special pleasure in trying to recreate in English poetic thoughts and images he finds in French. “It’s both challenging and rewarding,” he remarks, “and it’s an important dimension of what I do as a scholar.” Naughton’s passion is not limited to the CORE, French language and literature, to study groups, or even to his students: “It’s time for the Red Sox,” he says, leaning back in his chair. “They’ve suffered enough. Last year’s loss demands of our basic humanity that we cheer for the Red Sox. Ditto for the Cubs.”