​Dr. Gaynell Gavin

Dr. Gavin has been a director, as well as a reader, on many thesis and senior project committees. She especially likes teaching writing, literature, and law-related classes.


Gaynell Gavin grew up in a southwestern Illinois community on the Mississippi, where she developed a love for animals, bluffs, prairies, woods, and rivers. The Mississippi remains her favorite river. As an adult, she practiced law, with emphasis on family and juvenile law, in the Denver area, before turning to teaching. She lived in the South for the first time when she came to South Carolina to join the Claflin University faculty. An associate professor of English, she is also Claflin’s pre-law adviser and enjoys mentoring students. She and her husband live in Columbia with their rescued dogs and cats. They enjoy visits with their grown children and other travel.

Before coming to Claflin, Dr. Gavin taught at Grand Valley State University and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Additionally, she served as acting director of the International Human Rights Advocacy Center at the University of Denver during the former director’s summer leave, supervising law students and international studies graduate students’ research and writing on international law. She is the author of a poetry collection, Intersections, and a novella, Attorney-at-Large. She drew on experiences growing up in Illinois and living in the Denver-Boulder area (and her attachment to both places) in these books. Some of her more recent work reflects living in South Carolina. Her creative nonfiction, fiction, and poetry appear in many publications, including Bellevue Literary Review, Legal Studies Forum, North Dakota Quarterly, Prairie Schooner, and Solstice. She is co-authoring a book on magistrate courts and is the co-editor of To Unsnare Time’s Warp: Dogs and Their People, an anthology that is forthcoming in 2016.

Learn more at http://gaynellgavin.com/
Buy Dr. Gavin's books at http://mainstreetragbookstore.com/?product_tag=gaynell-gavin


  • PhD University of Nebraska-Lincoln
  • MA Southern Illinois University at Carbondale
  • JD Washington University
  • BA Principia College

Activities and Honors

  • Seán Ó Faoláin International Short Story Competition Runner-Up, “Blue Hour,” Summer 2013.
  • Porter Fleming Literary Competition Honorable Mention, “I Don’t Do Taxes Anymore,” Summer 2013.
  • Solstice Prize in Nonfiction Finalist, “A Failure of Narrative Distance,” Summer 2012.
  • Hofstra University Faculty Exchange Program, Spring 2012.
  • Creative Nonfiction Book Award finalist, Zone 3 Press, Fall 2011.
  • Artist-in-Residence, National Park Service, Herbert Hoover National Historic Site, 2011.
  • Writecorner Press Poetry Awards Honorable Mention, "Yearning," 2010.
  • "What We Have" cited in "Notable Essays," The Best American Essays 2009. Eds. Mary Oliver and Robert Atwan. Mariner Books, 2009
  • Association of Writers and Writing Programs Award Series in Creative Nonfiction finalist, 2003. Judge: Beverly Lowry.

Recent Publications

"Made in America: Cars of My Youth.” Belt Magazine. 24 May 2016.


"Fuel.” Concho River Review. 29.1 (2015) 31-42.

"Blue Hour." Southword Journal25 (2013).


"Where Their Names Appear." Les Femmes Folles: Women in Art.

http://femmesfollesnebraska.tumblr.com/post/57786944623/on-the-revolutionary-and-transformative-effects-of. 2013.

"Enlarging the Place of Mid Rivers Review." Introductory Essay. Mid Rivers Review 13 (2012).

"A Failure of Narrative Distance.” Solstice, (http://solsticelitmag.org/) Summer (2012).

"At the River's Bend." Big Muddy: A Journal of the Mississippi River Valley 12.1 (2012) 59-71.

"Yanks." Suicidally Beautiful. Charlotte: Main Street Rag, 2012.

"Reflections of a Neophyte Prairie Topophiliac." National Park Service

http://www.nps.gov/heho/supportyourpark/artist-in-residence-program.htm. Fall (2011).

"In a Time of Scars." Bellevue Literary Review 11.1 (2011) 57-67.

Recent Presentations

Association of Writers and Writing Programs Conference/Main Street Rag Publishing Off-Site

Reading, James and Mary Laury Booksellers, Minneapolis, Spring 2015.

“Daughters of Diaspora and Colonization: What Would Your Grandmother Say?” British

Commonwealth and Postcolonial Studies Conference, Savannah, Winter 2015.

“Gone to the Dogs: Confessions of a Traffic Scofflaw.” All Things Great and Small

Interdisciplinary Interspecies Conference, UC-Davis, Fall 2014.

Books on Broad Reading, Camden, SC, Fall 2014.

“Get Used to It: Mohsin Hamid’s Protagonists Deliver the Grim Old News that the

Colonizer Never Leaves.” British Commonwealth and Postcolonial Studies

Conference, Savannah, Winter 2014.

Panel Chair and Presenter, “Internalized Landscape.” “At the Grand: A Land-of-

Lincoln California Girl.” Western Literature Association, Berkeley, Fall 2013.

A Novel Idea Bookstore Reading, Lincoln, NE, Summer 2013.

Orangeburg County Library Reading, Orangeburg, SC, Spring 2013.

Last Friday Reading Series, Vin Master, Charlotte, NC, Winter 2013.

Dr. Gaynell Gavin
​Dr. Gaynell Gavin
Associate Professor of English
  • School of Humanities & Social Sciences