Office Space: Erica H. Bernheim, Ph.D

Nov 9, 2022

by FSC Staff

Dr. Erica H. Bernheim, Ph.D. has taught a wide range of courses at Florida Southern College since 2008, including the intro-level “boot camp” English studies course and the senior capstone.

Her area of scholarship is mainly focused on modern and contemporary literature. Students may have taken ENG 2004 (Representations of Animals in Literature), ENG 2023 (Creative Literature/Creative Writing - a combination of literary seminar, workshops, and introduction to a creative writing course), or ENG 3235 (Creative Writing—Poetry) with Dr. Bernheim.

The professor’s office in the Christoverson Humanities Building (office 309) is next to Dr. Rebecca Saulsbury Bravard’s office. Dr. Bernheim has been in that office since 2010.

octopus container
Dr. Bernheim's wooden octopus container, purchased
from Lakeland's annual Mayfaire by-the-Lake event

She has an affinity for flora and fauna, especially aquatic animals and birds. One of her favorite items in her office is a fish print from 1874, given to her by her friend Brian Harty. He gave it to her while she was working on one of her graduate degrees. He assured her in a note that she would pass her graduate exam, become a professor, and would eventually hang the print in her office.

Another special item in her office that suggests her love for aquatic creatures is a round, wooden container engraved with images of octopuses. She purchased it at Mayfaire by-the-Lake. It is filled with various items including paperclips and hair ties, “Because I’m a professional,” Dr. Bernheim joked.

No English professor’s office would be complete without a collection of books. There is a tribute to one of the books in the office, titled Geek Love. A student gave Dr. Bernheim a drawing based on how characters from the book may have looked.

Copies of Cantilevers, the FSC literary magazine

Copies of Cantilevers, the FSC literary magazine that contains creative work from students, staff, and alumni, can also be found in Dr. Bernheim’s office. Coined in 1990, Cantilevers’ name alludes to the “cantilevered” beams that Frank Lloyd Wright used to freely project buildings into open spaces.

Dr. Bernheim is a published author, with her work appearing in several literary magazines. Her first full-length poetry collection, The Mimic Sea, was published in 2012. She has won numerous honors and awards for her work.

Her interest in English was almost inevitable. Her father was an English professor, and her mother was an editor. Several other members of her family had careers in the field.

“It’s a ‘family business,” Dr. Bernheim said. “It’s what the people in my family do.”

geek love
Geek Love, one of Dr. Bernheim's many books in her collection
Bernheim in doorway

She moved to Florida to teach at FSC after completing grad school in the Midwest. Her interview was in February when it was cold in most of the country, but temperatures were in the 80s in Florida. The weather influenced her decision to take her position at the College. She says she thinks the College probably knew the weather would influence her decision. Her love for her work and her colleagues have kept her here.

Dr. Bernheim directs and curates the Visiting Writers Series at FSC. In September 2022, the Swiss poet and translator Daniele Pantano visited the College. In November, she is bringing Chilean writer and activist, Marjorie Agosin to campus. Master classes are taught to her students, followed by readings and question and answer sessions (open to the public) in Danforth Chapel.

“I love this job. It’s a dream job,” Dr. Bernheim said.