Dr. C. Herbert Gilliland, Jr. C. Herbert Gilliland, Jr. (BA, 1964; PhD, 1976)

C. Herbert Gilliland, now a Professor of English at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, spent much of his youth in Gainesville living less than a mile from the University of Florida campus where he would eventually study. He says he has many affectionate memories of his years at UF, but one in particular still stands out: “I was taking a sophomore survey course from Prof. “Waddy” Murphree, in a classroom on the second floor of Anderson Hall, where the English Department was then located. The windows were open. Suddenly through the window next to me came the top of a palm tree, engulfing me, and I found myself parting the fronds to see Murphree at the podium. He continued lecturing from his notes—on Chaucer perhaps—as though nothing had happened, and I and the rest of the class continued taking notes. The workmen installing the tree into the ground below quickly got it out the window and upright; not a word was said. It was as though we all thought, ‘After all, this is Florida; one should expect palm trees.’”

In addition to enjoying Florida’s “native flora,” Herbert Gilliland earned three degrees while he was at UF, including two in English. He also cultivated a strong interest in drama and performed with UF’s student-run Florida Players. After earning his BA in English in 1964, he went on to complete an MA in theater in 1965. Of his undergraduate days in the English Department, Herb says he was influenced most by what he refers to as the “cheerful seriousness” his professors brought to their teaching and their scholarship. They clearly were able to balance, he says, a “sense of professionalism,” with a “love of what they did,” an approach Professor Gilliland now takes in his own work. After earning his MA, he spent several years in the US Navy before finding his way back to the English Department to pursue doctoral studies. He earned his PhD in English Literature in 1976, concentrating in seventeenth century literature; his dissertation focused on Andrew Marvell’s prose.

Herb taught at the Oak Hall preparatory school in Gainesville before returning to active duty with the Navy and taking a teaching position at the Naval Academy in 1982. He then taught at the Virginia Military Institute from 1985–86.  In 1986 he was invited to return to the Naval Academy in a civilian capacity. He currently teaches courses there on topics ranging from Renaissance literature to science fiction. He particularly enjoys teaching a special course on Robert Heinlein, a graduate of the Naval Academy and the author of Starship Troopers. Herb’s scholarly work tends to be concerned with naval history. He is the author of Voyage to a Thousand Cares: Master’s Mate Lawrence with the African Squadron 1844–1846 (2003), which received the North American Society for Oceanic History’s John Lyman Book Award. With Robert Shenk, he co-authored the biographical Admiral Dan Gallery: The Life and Wit of a Navy Original (1999). He currently is working on a third book.