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Mary Bendel-Simso
  • Professor of English

Mary Bendel Simso

Contact Prof. Bendel-Simso

I was a math major in college, but William Faulkner and Zora Neale Hurston eventually lured me away from differential calculus and linear algebra. And actually the leap wasn’t that great: Both disciplines are vital elements of the Liberal Arts, and both are crucial to growing as a human and as a member of society. You can’t have a good understanding of the world around you if you don’t understand how it works – and math and the sciences are how you gain that understanding. And you won’t know what to do with that understanding if your thinking lacks historical, social, philosophical, and ethical grounding. That’s what literature provides. Exploring the lives and experiences – real and imagined – of others gives us a wider scope in which to see the world, broadening our perspective and giving us greater wisdom. In addition, reading novels is entertaining, delightful, and the best way to spend an afternoon – I can prove it to you.


Ph.D., The State University of New York at Binghamton
M.A., The State University of New York at Binghamton
B.A. in English, The College of St. Catherine

Research Interests

  • American literature

  • African American literature

  • Southern literature

  • Literature by women

  • Mystery & detective fiction

Recent Courses

  • ENG 2217: Growing up in America

  • ENG 2273: Detective & Mystery Fiction

  • ENG 2155: Topics in Multicultural Literature: Slave and Neo-Slave Narratives

Selected Publications

  • The Westminster Detective Library, ongoing

  • Bendel-Simso, Mary and LeRoy Panek. Essential Elements of the Detective Story, 1820-1891. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2017.

  • Bendel-Simso, Mary and LeRoy Panek. Early American Detective Stories: An Anthology." Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2008.

Clubs and community involvement

  • Engaged in Student-Faculty Collaborative Summer Research every summer since 2009

  • Secretary/Treasurer of the College's chapter of Phi Beta Kappa

Awards and Honors

  • One of five Inaugural Charles A. Boehlke, Jr., Engaged Faculty Fellows, 2017-19

  • The Ira Zepp Distinguished Teaching Award, 2013

  • Phenomenal [Faculty] Woman, McDaniel College Office of Diversity and Inclusion, student nominated, 2018

Mary Bendel Simso

Contact Prof. Bendel-Simso

"As a mentor, [Dr. Mary] engaged in intellectually vibrant discussions while encouraging me to create my own understandings of literature . . . [and taught me the] bravery to pursue your own opinions against the odds."


Cassandra Berube, '14 English quoted in the "Professor Spotlight" by Rachel Clevenger in PUPN Magazine. February 2018.