Leveraging his love of literature and the inspiration he garnered from his aunt, who was a history professor at San Diego State University, Dr. Brian Abel Ragen has accrued more than 30 years of eminent experience within the realm of English education. After receiving a Master of Arts from Princeton University in 1983, he commenced his career in 1984 as a lecturer at his alma mater, holding the position until 1988. Concurrent to this post, he served in the same capacity at Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania between 1986 and 1987, whereupon he received a Doctor of Philosophy from Princeton University in 1987. During his instructional tenure, he specialized in the teachings of 20th century American literature, heraldry, liturgy and hymnody, and religious literature.
After obtaining his doctorate degree, Dr. Ragen began serving Southern Illinois University Edwardsville as an assistant, associate and full professor of English until 2013, when he was named professor emeritus. Likewise, he excelled as a visiting professor at Hong Kong Baptist University in 2010. Alongside his primary feats, Dr. Ragen has also served as a trustee for Fontbonne University and has been a coordinator for volunteer groups at the St. Louis Fisher House since 2015, as well as a treasurer and board member of the St. Louis Cathedral Concerts.
Outside of his vocational work, Dr. Ragen has contributed his time and expertise to the Department of Veterans Affairs as a volunteer with more than 300 hours of service, the St. Louis VA Medical Center as a member of the Volunteer Corps for in-home visits, and a secretary and board member of the Field House Museum, where he has notably been a board member for more than 20 years.
Demonstrating versatility in his profession, Dr. Ragen has authored two books, “A Wreck on the Road to Damascus: Innocence, Guilt and Conversion in Flannery O’Connor” in 1989 and “Tom Wolfe: A Critical Companion” in 2002. He has further contributed a plethora of articles to popular and professional publications, and has penned major articles on such topics as heraldry, hymnity and literary canon. Impressively, he produced the CD, “Words to Music: Songs of Eugene Field,” featuring Christine Brewer and Scott Kennebeck, in 2018.
Dr. Ragen has earned several accolades and recognitions throughout the course of his career. In 2009, he received a Design Award for “Best Heraldic Design of the Year” by the American Heraldry Society, and was featured in the 23rd edition of Who’s Who in the Midwest in 1992. He was also inducted as a Knight of Magistral Grace by the Sovereign Military Order of Malta in 2019 and has been recognized as a Knight Grand Cross of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre. Although his career has been filled with highlights, he is especially proud of being the editor of the scholarly journal Papers on Language & Literature between 1992 and 2008, as well as his contributions to the establishment of endowed scholarships and fellowships to Pomona College, Princeton University, Fontbonne University and William Penn University.