English Department Gives Teaching Excellence Awards for 2019

Clockwise from top left: Sharon Fox, Laura Gray, Casey Kayser and Jim Gamble.
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Clockwise from top left: Sharon Fox, Laura Gray, Casey Kayser and Jim Gamble.

The Department of English recently awarded its Teaching Excellence Awards for 2019 to Sharon Fox, Jim Gamble, Laura Gray and Casey Kayser.

All four were given awards to acknowledge that they are providing outstanding instruction to Department of English students.

Sharon Fox

Graduate instructor Sharon Fox's teaching areas of interest are 19th-century literature and gender studies, and she especially enjoys the opportunity to meld the two.

"The 'Victorian Masculinities' course I taught a few semesters ago was a distinct pleasure to share," she said. 

Fox also works in the area of adaptation in literature, and this semester she has been excited to have the opportunity to teach a "Pride and Prejudice and Adaptation" special topics course for the Department of English. Fox likewise is drawn to teaching all areas of writing, whether composition or technical writing, because she sees writing as a valuable skill to be passed on.

"The University of Arkansas has offered me so many opportunities to stretch myself as a teacher," Fox said.

Jim Gamble

Instructor Jim Gamble became a teacher because of the kindness and encouragement of his own teachers from elementary school through his doctoral program.

"I try to pass forward what was passed to me," he said.

He teaches both composition and world literature courses for the Department of English. For reading assignments, Gamble directs his students to ask many questions and consider a range of components, such as how mythical elements in pieces of world literature can be related to other readings, other courses, or the lives of the students themselves. He discourages his students from looking for hidden meanings and emphasizes to them that writing gets better with rewriting.

"Learning never stops," Gamble said.

Laura Gray

To create academically meaningful assignments that can reach across disciplines to strengthen students' empathic understanding, instructor Laura Gray develops a curriculum that incorporates peer-learning, solution-based work and primary research.

In her "Technical and Report Writing" course, for example, Gray and her students identify global issues related to the students' academic areas that they can then address within the community. The class likewise discusses strategies and models for the written products that these issues create.

"We work together to dissect points of view, to consider unintended consequences and to challenge ways to find relevant resources and information," Gray said.

In doing so, her students practice awareness of the interconnectedness of resources and community members affected by the issues. Her students also identify change-makers who might benefit from the perspectives and research the students can provide.

Casey Kayser

Professor Casey Kayser has teaching interests in twentieth-century American and southern literature and drama; medical humanities; folklore; popular culture; and gender studies. Her teaching is also strongly informed by the principles of service-learning and community engagement.

In addition to teaching literature courses, she teaches courses in the area of medical humanities and helps coordinate the Health Coaches program, a sequence of service-learning courses for pre-health students, in partnership with an interdisciplinary group of university faculty and a team of healthcare professionals at Washington Regional Medical Center.

"It's very rewarding for me to share literature and reflective writing with future healthcare professionals," Kayser said. "In my courses, I hope to give students the tools they'll need in their careers, ones which will help them analyze patients, write meaningful case histories or reflect on their own journeys, and ultimately, practice more compassionate medicine."

For more information, please visit the Department of English online.


Leigh Sparks, assistant director of graduate programs
Department of English
479-575-5659, lxp04@uark.edu


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