Joe Hansen

Class Year



Omaha, Nebraska


English and Music


Classical Studies

“Each professor teaches their classes a little different, and they are constantly revising their curriculum, so you’ll get a variety of views on the same subject.”

Joe Hansen, ’20

Career goal

“I am hoping to go to graduate school to get a PhD in English, specifically studying 19th century American literature.”

How have Carthage faculty had an impact on your life or Carthage career?

Professor Annette Duncan taught my Western Heritage courses. We were thrilled to discover that we were both from Nebraska. Her class was always very fun and interesting, and she helped influence me to choose to be an English major. Incidentally, many of her children at Carthage are/were involved in music, so I also befriended them, and one of her daughters is one of my best friends now. Prof. Duncan is now my academic advisor, and she helps me balance my workload. I wouldn’t be where I am today without her.

Professor Shannon Brennan taught American Literary Traditions my freshman year. She helped me rediscover my love for American literature, and I continued to take classes with her. In the summer between my sophomore and junior years, she was my advisor for a SURE project on 19th century American magazines. She has helped me grow as an English student and scholar, and introduced me to the world of English scholarship.”

Favorite class

“My favorite class at Carthage has been American Literary Traditions with Prof. Brennan. I got to read a bunch of cool authors like Nathaniel Hawthorne, Edgar Allan Poe, and Flannery O’Connor. The final project for the class was “A Critical Introduction to American Literature.” Each student had to create a mini-anthology of stories from our readings that semester and link them in an overarching theme with a 10-page introduction. It was a fascinating experience, and I loved it.”

Campus involvement

“I am the president of Sigma Tau Delta, the English honors fraternity. I head the meetings and plan events with my fellow eBoard members. I am also a co-director of the English Players, the Shakespeare Troupe on campus. Every year, the English Players put on scenes from a Shakespeare play during Shakespeare week. As co-director, I’ve worked with Professor Maria Carrig and Professor Alyson Kiesel and the other co-director to select this year’s play. I am also an active member of Lambda Kappa, the music fraternity on campus, and am involved with the pep band.”

Toughest class

“My toughest class at Carthage has been Keyboard Skills I. All music students must learn piano, and I was not prepared for the workload that required. I did eventually adjust, but it was difficult to learn how to work my hands the right way for the notes to sound correctly. Once I started practicing the right way, though, it became much easier.”

Opportunities at Carthage

“In the summer of 2018, I did a SURE project about 19th century American magazines with Prof. Brennan. I received a grant to do so, and I spent the whole summer reading Graham’s Magazine and Godey’s Lady’s Book, two extremely popular literary magazines of the 1840s. By the end of the summer, I had come up with a rough draft about the significance of anonymity in Graham’s Magazine in 1842. At the moment, I am revising this draft to present at various conferences.”


“I received one of the Lincoln Scholarships, and it has meant everything to me. It was my dream to attend an out-of-state college, but my financial situation rendered that impossible. Receiving the Lincoln Scholarship allowed me to fulfill my dream, and I am making sure not to waste it.”

Favorite moments and memories at Carthage

“Playing Mario Party and Mario Kart with my friends will always stand out in my mind as a favorite Carthage memory. I also love all of the pep band games that I’ve played with my friends. I don’t super love sports, but I love the songs we play for pep band.”

Favorite spot on campus

“I love the forested area by the river next to the red bridge.”

Biggest surprise so far

“I think finding out that I could minor in classical studies was surprising. It hadn’t even occurred to me that I could study Greece and Rome seriously.”

What would your 8-year-old self think of you now?

“I think my 8-year-old self would be disappointed that I am not studying Egyptology, but he would also probably be satisfied with the classical studies minor. I think he’d also be happy that I’m doing the creative writing emphasis for English and the composition emphasis for music. He always wanted to be an author and also liked to make up little songs, so he’d be happy to know that I’ve continued doing both of those things.”

Why should other students consider your major? What advice do you have for them?

“The professors in the English Department are great. I’ve gotten to know several of them individually, and I feel inspired by all of them. They will help you work towards your goals and teach you new ways of looking at literature. Each professor teaches their classes a little different, and they are constantly revising their curriculum, so you’ll get a variety of views on the same subject. The literature does not disappoint, either. Also, the English Department sponsors cool trips, such as the one to Stratford, Ontario for a Shakespeare Festival.”

The music professors are also amazing, but the biggest advantage of being a music major is getting to know all of the music students at Carthage. They’re a great community, and I’m glad to be a part of it. Everyone takes the same route of classes, so you’ll get to know all of your classmates really well. The classes, while challenging, have greatly improved my musicianship over the years, and I am a much better performer than when I started. You can’t lose with great professors and great community, all while learning more and more about music.”

Why Carthage?

“My mom went here for a year in the ’80s and that experience has stayed with her ever since. When we first came to Carthage, I was impressed with the level of personal connection. I received a one-on-one tour, and my name was displayed on the screens throughout campus. When I attended the Lincoln Scholarship competition, I was given a demo Western Heritage lecture that impressed and intrigued me. Although winning a Lincoln Scholarship was the final deciding factor for me, looking back, I wouldn’t have gone anywhere else.”