Faculty Friday: Diana Pavlac Glyer’s Dedication to Creative Collaboration
Diana Pavlac Glyer’s earliest childhood memories include sneaking a book with her whenever her mother would tell her to go outside and play. Her early love for literature established the roots of her outstanding career as a writer and professor, whose goal is to cultivate creativity in collaboration among every student who enters her classroom.
Glyer grew up in Cleveland, Ohio and spent a significant amount of her life in the midwest, earning a PhD in English at the University of Illinois at Chicago in 1993. Soon after, she moved to Southern California and started teaching at Azusa Pacific University. She began in the English department, and gradually transitioned into the Honors College. The opportunity to teach great books and a broad range of literature sparked a joy like no other. Glyer is especially passionate about helping writers develop their God-given skills in community. She now works in the Honors College full time, teaching one English graduate class a year related to her favorite lifelong topic: The Inklings, a writing group composed of some of the most renowned authors of the 20th century.
Anyone who has attended an Honors College lecture or colloquy with Glyer knows that C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien are her favorite authors, and she has devoted a substantial amount of her research and writing about their friendship. Glyer’s interest in the authors began in the 1970s, The Lord of the Rings series grew in popularity. As a high schooler, she struggled to understand Tolkien’s world, and even created character lists and charts. “Tolkien’s writing is truly about immersion in the atmosphere. It’s beautiful, wholesome, holy, and profound,” she said. Similarly, Lewis’ science fiction novels offered Glyer the same emphasis on joy, goodness, and holiness, which she admired as a new Christian seeking to understand Christ-like life.
Glyer published her first book, The Company They Keep, in 2008. The book offers a detailed glimpse into the lives of Lewis and Tolkien, and how the Inklings influenced their artistry. Glyer later released Bandersnatch as a resource for readers who want more real-life application of the concepts the Inklings reveal.
“All creative people need other people around them to resonate with, to encourage, to challenge, and to offer practical help,” she said.
Glyer also published The Clay in the Potter’s Hands series which offers insight into the spiritual lessons she’s gained by viewing God as the potter and humans as the clay. She has also edited seven Oxbridge books with the senior Honors College students, two of which have been published by conventional publishers. Oxbridge books are yearlong capstone projects that the seniors in the Honors College produce in order to present an in-depth analysis of a chosen text.
Glyer’s latest book, The Major and the Missionary: The Letters of Warren Hamilton Lewis and Blanche Biggs, tells the story of C.S. Lewis’ brother and Blanche Biggs, a missionary serving in Papua New Guinea. Glyer has also written a play based on the book. The Major and the Missionary: A Love Story was recently performed at North Wind Manor in Nashville, Tenn. One viewer described the play as “funny, affectionate, clever, incisive, and in the end, profoundly moving.”
While her publications include a variety of different texts, Glyer said they share a universal theme. “The common thread in my writing is the idea that we are better together. If we want to be all that God intends for us, we really need to make connections and collaborate,” she said with a smile. “The more we connect, the more we trust and support one another, the more we can bring out the best in each other.”
For more than 20 years, Glyer has met with a prayer group consisting of various kinds of artists, who have encouraged her in times of despair, proving her motto to be true: “Creativity thrives in community.”
As a writer, Glyer values the opportunity to commit to what God has called her to do. “Any time I make something, I feel like I’m participating in the nature of God. If I’m prayerful and intentional, I feel a sense of collaboration with the Holy Spirit, which gives me the courage and strength to do what I do.”
Through her work as a professor, Glyer strives to share the joy of writing with her students, so that they too can learn and grow with one another as creatives. “To me, the life of a writer facilitates a level of intellectual and moral virtue,” she said. In the Honors College especially, she admires the combination of learning from classic authors, developing ideas, and answering big life questions in class. “The Honors College is truly a special place. It has the most dedicated faculty I’ve ever known, the students are here to learn, and the cohort model is designed to bring people together in lots of remarkable ways.” She loves getting to know students over the course of the four year program and is delighted to be a part of their spiritual and academic development.
Glyer’s lifelong dedication to writing, teaching, and inspiring others allows her to spread Christ’s light on APU’s campus. Every student who meets her is given the opportunity to expand their creative insights, broaden their understanding of writing, and ultimately find joy in what Glyer loves the most: creativity in community.
Posted: October 20, 2023