Faculty Biography - Clare Pearson

Faculty Biography - Clare Pearson

Clare Pearson


B.A. General Studies in the Humanities, University of Chicago

M.A. (ABD), Committee on Social Thought, University of Chicago

Room 2430 Des Plaines


I began college as a physics major at University of Chicago (intending to be an astrophysicist), but after two years (including a summer at Fermilab) I found that I could not bring myself to give up my humanities courses for the increasing specialization that physics required. It didn’t help that at this time I attended a talk by several prominent physicists who wondered publicly how they could possibly explain their work to the larger community when they couldn’t even explain it to each other. At the end of that summer, I became an official generalist and moved into an interdisciplinary major that allowed me to write my own program—a combination of literature, philosophy, and history courses.  The common thread for these was the question, how do we come to understand what is ethical in our lives, and how (and why) do literature and the experience of stories and poetry shape and speak to our ethical experience better than linear arguments? I continued this same question through interdisciplinary study in graduate school later, also at the University of Chicago, this time with the Committee on Social Thought. There I worked especially on Greek philosophy and literature, the history of philosophy broadly, with a lot of Kant & Nietzsche, and Martin Heidegger, who became the subject of my dissertation work.

I have been teaching literature and philosophy for more than 25 years: to college students at University of Chicago, Valparaiso University, and Saint Xavier University; to professional adults at the University of Chicago; and also for a short time to high school students at an alternative Chicago high school. I love teaching, and really do find it a way always to continue to learn and pursue my own questions. Twenty years ago I began to add nonwestern philosophy (and the literature that goes hand in hand with it) to my studies, began my practice of Zen Buddhism, and later was instrumental in designing a 4-year program in the classic texts of Middle Eastern, Indian, Chinese, and Japanese civilization. East and west really do meet sometimes—I have found remarkable resonances in the thinkers that most intrigue me across the world. I also lecture regularly for the First Friday Lecture Series at the Chicago Cultural Center, and have published on Heidegger.

I am a great lover of nature, and in my spare time I try to get to mountains when possible (usually Vermont, New Hampshire, & western Maine). I also make jewelry for fun (both beading and metalsmithing), and have a small online hobby business. I live on the south side of Chicago, and have three college age daughters. I am happy to be joining the faculty at Oakton & look forward to many interesting classes.