BA St. Mary College
MA University of Iowa
PhD University of Iowa
Professor of English Mary Vermillion joined Mount Mercy in 1994. Prior to coming to Mount Mercy, she served as a teaching assistant and academic advisor at the University of Iowa. Her doctoral dissertation examines the connection between last wills and 18th-century novels, and she remains interested in literary depictions of legal issues. She teaches a course called Law and Literature, and for the past three years, she has facilitated a service learning project in which her students lead "Book Clubs" with inmates at the Anamosa State Penitentiary. Recently she and her colleague English Professor Carol Tyx published an article about the project in an MLA anthology titled "Service Learning and Literary Studies."
Vermillion has published three mystery novels, including her most recent, Seminal Murder. Currently, she and her husband, Benjamin Thiel, are writing a joint memoir about how his gender transition changed each of them and their relationship. Vermillion has also published scholarly articles and shorter creative works, including "The Cereal Aisle" and "Teaching English in War Time." Her most recent scholarly article explores Jane Smiley's rewriting of King Lear entitled "The Uses of Tragedy: 'A Thousand Acres' and American Exceptionalism." Vermillion's article appears in a special issue of "Literature Interpretation Theory."
She organizes Mount Mercy’s Visiting Writers Series, and she serves as the faculty advisor for its literary magazine, The Paha Review. She teaches Writing and Social Issues, Creative Writing, and a number of British literature courses—including her favorite, Shakespeare.
In spring 2010, Vermillion taught at one of Mount Mercy’s partner universities, Canterbury Christ Church University in England, and this experience led her and Associate Professor of English Christopher DeVault to offer a new travel course, British Literature and Culture. In 2014, they offered a similar travel course in Ireland. Vermillion has accompanied Mount Mercy students on service trips to Kentucky and West Virginia, and in 2006, she was awarded the Mount Mercy Thomas Feld Chair for Excellence in Teaching.
Vermillion loves to read and write, garden, lift weights, and watch women’s basketball. She and her husband live in Iowa City with their two cats and three guinea pigs.