Who's Who Top Educators

Brian Abel Ragen, PhD

Title: Emeritus Professor of English
Company: Southern Illinois University Edwardsville
Location: Saint Louis, Missouri, United States

Brian Abel Ragen, Emeritus Professor of English at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, has been recognized by Marquis Who’s Who Top Educators for dedication, achievements, and leadership in English.

Dr. Ragen became involved in his profession because he had a love for literature. He saw scholarship as a profession thanks to the example of his aunt Katherine Ragen, who became his guardian — she was a professor of history at San Diego State University and his inspiration. He began on his path by receiving a Bachelor of Arts from Pomona College, which allowed him to study for a time at Oxford University, in 1980. He did his graduate work at Princeton University, earning an MA in 1983 and a PhD in 1987. Ragen taught as a lecturer at Princeton University from 1984 to 1988 and at Bryn Mawr College from 1986 to 1987, before taking a tenure-track position as an assistant professor at SIUE in 1988. Dr. Ragen was promoted to associate professor in 1993 and to full professor in 2000. He received emeritus status in 2013. He served as a visiting professor at Hong Kong Baptist University in 2010. In the course of his career, he has taught all periods of English and American literature, and Introduction to the Bible, a Great Books course, and Greek mythology, as well as public speaking and English composition.

Dr. Ragen has published two books: a study of Flannery O’Connor titled, A Wreck on the Road to Damascus (1989) and Tom Wolfe: A Critical Companion (2002), as well as many articles and papers. His subjects range from heraldry to the revision of traditonal hymns in modern hymnals to television drama. Ragen has often spoken to non-academic audiences, sometimes bringing poetry alive through musical performances. In 2018 he produced a CD: Words to Music: Songs of Eugene Field. Ragen was editor of the scholarly journal Papers on Language and Literature from 1992-2008 and executive coordinator of the American Literature Section of the Modern Language Association from 1999-2006. He now serves as a trustee of Fontbonne University. On October 22, 2022, he was presented with a Service Medal of the Order of St. John with 3 Bars recognizing his 25 years of service by the HRH the Duke of Gloster. Likewise, Dr. Ragen received the Campaign Medal of the Order of Malta with the COVID-19 Clasp for continuing to help the sick and the poor with a mobile van during the pandemic.

Having been taught the importance of philanthropy by his mother, Ragen has established scholarships, fellowships, or professorships at Pomona College, Princeton University, Fontbonne University, and William Penn University and has served several charities as a board member or active volunteer. Much of his energy has been devoted to the orders of chivalry to which he belongs, the Most Venerable Order of St. John, the Order of Malta, and the Order of the Holy Sepulchre. Dr. Ragen has also been active in the Archdiocese of St. Louis, helping to fund refurbished organs at The Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis and at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary and an illuminated Bible for the cathedral.

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