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Emily Ogden to receive Cory Family Teaching Award

Professor Emily Ogden has been given the Cory Family Teaching Award for her "dedicated and innovative teaching of courses in English. The award comes with a $25,000 cash bonus," and she will be honored at Fall Convocation on Friday, October 23, 2015, at 2:00 in the John Paul Jones Arena.

Congratulations to our English majors

The English Department has awarded its annual departmental scholarships to the following excellent undergraduate majors:

Michael Wagenheim Memorial Scholarship: Elizabeth Ballou, Kelsey Becker, Vanessa Braganza, Daniel Calem, Caelainn Carney, Zoey Dorman, Alexa Hazel, Claudia Heath, Andrea Mendoza Perez, and Alex Scheinman.

Peter and Phyllis Pruden Scholarship: Emily Blase, Hillary Hylton, Charlie Micah Jones, Christine Kim, and Tanner Pruitt.

William and Charlotte Savage Scholarship: Erik Moyer, Christina Paek, and Melanie Schmidt.

Lisa Woolfork awarded All-University Teaching Award

Professor Lisa Woolfork has been awarded an All-University Teaching Award for her creative and rigorous commitment to student learning. She received her award alongside other teachers at a ceremony last Wednesday. Read more about the award and reflections on Professor Woolfork's teaching at UVA Today.

Professor Alison Booth receives major NEH grant

Alison Booth has received a highly competitive Level-II Startup Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Office of Digital Humanities, to support a project entitled Cohorts of Women in Biographical Collections (CWBC).

Jones

Libby
Alumni director of the American School in London
I say with confidence that my B.A. in English from UVa has been the greatest asset I have professionally. Without it, I would not have qualified for my teaching fellowship in England, which changed my life…

After graduating from UVa in 2006, I moved 20 miles north of London, UK to take up my post as a UK teaching fellow (http://www.virginia.edu/cue/ukfellows.html) at Haileybury College, a British boarding school not so far-flung from Harry Potter's Hogwarts. The learning curve was steep: I was an American English major with no teaching experience sent abroad to teach British History, British citizenship, and sex ed! But I adored the experience and ended up extending my one year assignment to two. Upon my return to the US, I made good on my goal of pursuing a journalism career, and after a few internships, including at New York Magazine and O Magazine, I joined the editorial staff at Good Housekeeping. I was surprised to discover how much I missed being a part of a school community, however, and eventually went back to independent education, taking a role as communications manager at a private school in New York City. Two years ago, I crossed the Pond for the second time to follow my British husband (who, as luck would have it, I found on Haileybury's campus six years earlier). I am now in my third year as the alumni director of the American School in London. I say with confidence that my B.A. in English from UVa has been the greatest asset I have professionally. Without it, I would not have qualified for my teaching fellowship in England, which changed my life (and it was a fellow English major pal who told me about the UK Fellows program in the first place). The UVa alumni network was intrinsic to almost every interview I landed in New York and continues to shape my career in alumni relations. I couldn't be more grateful for my undergraduate experience. As an expat, my seminar on Hemingway and Fitzgerald with Sydney Blair holds a special place in my heart, and I think often of the Fitzgerald quote I came across when our class read Fitzgerald's "Echoes of the Jazz Age"--"...and it all seems rosy and romantic to us who were young then, because we will never feel quite so intensely about our surroundings any more."

Graffeo

Christopher
Neurosurgery resident at the Mayo Clinic
What the medical education community is slowly realizing, however, is that truly good doctors also need to be able to go beyond that framework and think creatively, manipulate abstract concepts in tandem with hard data, and express their conclusions in clear, thoughtful ways that make sense to our colleagues and patients alike.

I'm a neurosurgery resident at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, which is admittedly not where I thought my English major would get me—though it has certainly helped me along my way. I studied English, American Studies, and Philosophy as an undergraduate, and was not pre-med: the time I didn't spend reading or writing was spent working either for The Declaration or my band Silent Diner. I moved to New York after graduation and worked as the editor of a small arts quarterly called Ins&Outs for a few years before deciding that I wanted to retrain, which involved a post-baccalaureate program at Columbia and medical school at NYU, all of which ultimately brought me here to the Mayo Clinic and neurosurgery. What's more interesting than all that, though, is how my English major experiences armed me for a career that, at first glance, has little to do with literature. There are the obvious advantages—fluidity writing research manuscripts and personal statements, ease articulating complex ideas, perhaps an edge on the verbal and written sections of the MCAT, &c.—but all that matters far less than how studying English shaped the way I think. Medicine is fundamentally an exercise in critical thinking, pattern recognition, and problem solving, which by tradition is taught in a fairly regimented fashion. What the medical education community is slowly realizing, however, is that truly good doctors also need to be able to go beyond that framework and think creatively, manipulate abstract concepts in tandem with hard data, and express their conclusions in clear, thoughtful ways that make sense to our colleagues and patients alike. I'm certainly biased, but I think it's an eloquent (if atypical) application of an English degree, and I'm certain that the critical thinking skills I honed in the UVA English Department bear tremendous responsibility for my approach to neurosurgery.

By far my favorite memory is from English 383, when Michael "The Cat" Levenson shared his affection for The Shins' recently-released "Saint Simon" by leading the entire lecture hall in a sing along. Our chorus was awkward but nonetheless ecstatic, with the full house perhaps sensing the Collegiate Moment-ness of the occasion, to say nothing of perfectly capturing the improvisational, inspired energy that endears Professor Levenson to everyone lucky enough to pass through his classroom. Perhaps unsurprisingly, my second answer is another Levensonian experience, when I was lucky enough a semester later to secure a seat in his Ulysses seminar. It was my first tour through what quickly became (and remains yet) my favorite novel, perhaps culminating on the day when it was my turn to read a prepared passage to the group: I selected the opening pages from "Oxen Of The Sun," and I still remember how energizing and primal it felt to roar through sentences that sounded as though they were giving birth to the English language.

Lisa Russ Spaar selected finalist for national Cherry Award for Great Teaching

Professor Lisa Russ Spaar has been selected as one of three finalists for Baylor University's 2016 Robert Foster Cherry Award for Great Teaching, the only national teaching award presented by a college or university to an individual for exceptional teaching.

Saum

Laura
Staffing Manager at Robert Half International
During this time at Oracle, selling cloud-based software products, I used my English degree in ways that often shocked my managers.

When I graduated in 2013 I had been accepted into University of South Carolina's law school, but decided to take some time off before returning to school. I accepted a job with Oracle as an Inside Sales Representative and moved to the West Coast. During this time at Oracle, selling cloud-based software products, I used my English degree in ways that often shocked my managers. In order to get in touch with C-level decision makers at T-Mobile and 21st Century Fox, I wrote haikus. It sounds silly at first, but these business people thoroughly enjoyed the creativity that went into my messaging. This application of my English acumen resulted in the end to a blackout period between T-Mobile and Oracle and, subsequently, the sale of $4m in marketing automation software. After my first year, I decided to defer from law school for another year and continue working.

However, after a year and a half with Oracle, I recently decided to make a career shift and forego law school. I accepted a job with Robert Half International, where I provide San Francisco-based companies with temporary accounting professionals. We work with clients like Uber, the Golden Gate Bridge, and Dropbox. Whether it comes to client communication, posting jobs, or connecting with candidates, I utilize the skills learned in my undergraduate English studies every day. The ability to communicate a message in an intelligent and effective (and sometimes creative) manner has served me well in a professional context. During my free time, I continue to put my English degree to use tutoring students through Pulitzer Prize winner Dave Eggers' charity: 826 Valencia. I have also become involved in the literary community of San Francisco, submitting poetry and short stories to local literary journals like Zyzzyva and McSweeny's

I often reminisce about the time I spent studying English with Professor Levenson and Professor Spearing. There are many days when I am in the office that I wish that I could be back in the classroom learning the intricacies of Dickensian prose, or the meaning of Middle English in the Gawain Poet's text. What I would not give to spend another semester learning about Middlemarch and Tristram Shandy in a class dauntingly titled "The Long Novel." Though, at the time, I had no idea of how this information would translate into my professional life, in retrospect I am incredibly grateful for the hours I spent in Bryan Hall during my time at UVA.

(My picture is from the Movember charity competition that my Oracle coworkers spearheaded -- I actually won the female award of "Miss Movember" in 2013 for my participation with the endeavor.)

Rita Dove Pays Homage to Toni Morrison at National Book Critics Circle

Former U.S. Poet Laureate and Commonwealth Professor Rita Dove paid homage to Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison at the March 12 National Book Critics Circle (NBCC) annual awards ceremony at The New School in New York City. Professor Dove introduced Ms. Morrison as this year’s recipient of the NBCC’s Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award.

UVA chosen to host Shakespeare's First Folio

A committee of English professors were instrumental in attracting William Shakespeare's "First Folio" to the University of Virginia. Eighteen of Shakespeare's plays are known today only because they were included in the “First Folio,” among them “Macbeth,” “Twelfth Night,” “Julius Caesar,” “As You Like It” and “The Tempest." One of the most famous books in the world, the collection of plays will be on view at U.Va. – the only location in the commonwealth – as part of a 2016 national traveling exhibition, “First Folio!

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