Tena Helton

Dr. Tena Helton Meet Tena Helton
Assistant Professor,



  • B.A. English, conc. Education: North Carolina State University
  • M.A. English, conc. Education: North Carolina State University
  • Ph.D. American Literature, conc. Women’s and Gender Studies: Louisiana State University

Research interests:

  • Antebellum American literature and culture, literature and culture of the American south, theories of location and region, gender studies, and genre theory.


  • I’m married and have three children. I love photographing my kids. I also like to camp and hike and play racquetball whenever I get the chance. Dr. Tena Helton with her kids
    Dr. Tena Helton with her kids.

Major project underway:

  • Currently I’m working on a cultural study of Black Hawk’s life. I’m also working on a book about genre and culture in the early nineteenth century in America. There are lots of other little ones.

Learning philosophy:

  • Students should take responsibility for their own learning, but also be responsible citizens within and outside of the classroom. A quote by Dr. Tena Helton, "We all have a responsibility to help one another thrive and survive--I want students to realize that we're all in this together." As human beings, we all have a responsibility to help one another survive and thrive. I want students to realize that we’re all in this together–that it’s not them reading and writing and turning things in to me and me saying “oh I can see that you read things and wrote things so I’ll give you an A or C or whatever,” I would rather us discuss things and make them real for one another. I mean we’re talking about 200 years of history. We really need to come together and be responsible to one another. Also, I don’t want the classroom to be the only place where things happen. I want students to go out of the classroom and try to enact the things we tackle in the classroom regarding ethics or morals. So, if you learn something from Thoreau and you really want to talk about it and we have a great discussion in class, then when you leave class, go out into the community and enact what you learned.

Advice for prospective students:

  • Come to school prepared to work on skills and to accumulate knowledge, but understand that we are educating whole persons, and not simply teaching job skills. Also, try not to think of your teachers as “them.” We are all in this together.