Dr. Diane P. Thompson, Professor of English

Northern Virginia Community College (NVCC), Woodbridge Campus

About Me

I was born in Los Angeles, California in 1940. I lived in Echo Park as a child and have many pleasant memories of the lake, the boats and ducks, and the endless picnics we enjoyed there with our friends. Later, we moved to Eagle Rock, a hilly suburb that I never liked at all. I left at sixteen to go to college at UCLA, where I majored in English. I loved UCLA. It was huge, impersonal, physically attractive, and had an enormous library. I stayed there for six years, earning a BA and MA in English. I also married and had a child during this time.

I was twenty-five when I moved to Houston, Texas. While there, I read lots of Russian novels and books on psychology, studied piano, discovered that I was not a talented novelist, and took care of my child while my husband worked on the Apollo mission at the Manned Spacecraft Center. After less than three years, I decided that I was either crazy or a misplaced person from elsewhere. Testing this hypothesis, we drove to New York City. From the moment we emerged from the Lincoln Tunnel onto the streets of Manhattan I knew the truth--I was not crazy at all, but a New Yorker who had never been to New York. A month later, we moved to Manhattan, where we lived for the next three years. It was a playground for the spirit in the mid-sixties, but a very expensive playground.

After our second child was born, we moved to an old stone farmhouse in New Jersey. That was the organic gardening, health food co-op, super mom phase of my life. It was great fun for a few years, but then school rebeckoned me. I enrolled in the PhD program in Comparative Literature at the City University of New York. I specialized in Medieval Studies, but the longer I studied, the more I was attracted to even older texts, most of all Homer. I had always been fascinated by ancient history, and I still clung to my childhood illusion that if I could only understand where we came from, the present would make better sense.

In 1978 we moved to our present home in Reston, Virginia. After completing my dissertation, "Human Responsibility and the Fall of Troy" (CUNY, 1981), I started teaching at Northern Virginia Community College in 1981, and that's what I've been doing ever since. For several years, I focused on the use of computers for composition. Then I became interested in using computers for communication, and that led to my interest in distance learning.

In 1990 I began teaching distance courses on the www and over time focused increasingly on World Literature and a new course I developed on Trojan War stories.

I retired in 2011 and now teach part time online at NOVA. When I am not teaching, I spend much of my time researching stories about the Trojan War over the past three thousand years. I wrote a book about Trojan War Stories which was published in the spring of 2004. During the past year I prepared a second edition of the book, The Trojan War: Literature and Legends from the Bronze Age to the Present, 2nd ed. (McFarland, 2013). I don't know what my next writing project will be. For leisure I love to go to the theater, visit museums, watch movies, read mysteries, cook, and pay attention to my plants. 

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© Diane Thompson 3/2/1999; updated: 5/26/2014