Obituary: Wendy Carse / Literature professor brought pop culture trends to classroom

June 30, 1953 - July 29, 2013

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Wendy Carse was most comfortable in the classroom, educating her students at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

"It's cliche to say, but she really was sculpting young minds and teaching them how to think," her husband, Robert Schollaert, said. "People have come back and said, 'Oh my gosh, you were right.' I've been there to see it."

Ms. Carse, 60, of Squirrel Hill died Monday in her home of complications from pancreatic cancer.

Born in Emerson, Neb. -- a town Mr. Schollaert said is so small that every person knows everyone else -- Ms. Carse left her home to study English. She received her bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Northern Colorado and a doctorate from Tulane University.

She always wanted to be an educator, so she accepted a job at IUP. She was far from her family in Nebraska but thrilled to have landed her dream job. Through mutual friends she met her husband, whom she recently married after being partners for 13 years, and moved to Squirrel Hill.

Ms. Carse's film classes were popular among IUP students, English department colleague Chauna Craig said.

Ms. Craig, 43, of Indiana, Pa., said her colleague's strength was in her ability to connect with the interest of students. Zombies and vampires are all the rage among college students so Ms. Carse brought the supernatural into the classroom.

Ms. Carse would show films or have her class read literature about the supernatural and then ask the class why the subject remained so popular throughout the years.

"Wendy was trained as a Victorianist. A lot of literature at that time had to deal with ghosts, zombies and the supernatural," Ms. Craig said. "She just seemed to have this uncanny way to see a pop culture trend and bring it into the classroom."

Through watching films and reading books, Ms. Carse would question her students about minute details that were included. By doing this, she was teaching her students how to think, which helped them in all aspects of their lives, Mr. Schollaert said.

In addition to her husband, Ms. Carse is survived by her parents Robert and Betty Johnson of Nebraska; daughter Lana of Alaska; sister Kathy Ericksen of Nebraska; and brother Monty Johnson of Minnesota.

Plans for a funeral service have not been finalized but will occur in Nebraska. There will also be a service at IUP in the fall.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial contributions be made in Ms. Carse's name to the English General Fund, Foundation for IUP in Sutton Hall Room G1 in Indiana, Pa.

obituaries

Jessica Tully: jtully@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1159 or on Twitter @jessalynn4.


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