Log in

Teaching Excellence Awardees

Previous year's Awardees are Here and the Nomination form is Here

2023 Laureates

Hans Bork (Stanford) – Classics (Latin)/ Digital Humanities. Ph.D., UCLA 2018, M.A.; Washington University in St. Louis, 2011, B.A.; Classics, UMass Amherst, 2009, B.A.; English Literature, UMass Amherst, 2009.

I am one of the Latin Language and Literature faculty at the Stanford Department of Classics, though I like to think of myself as a "Historian of Language" — someone who studies not just how languages are used as they are, and why that is so, but also how languages change over time, and the social forces that cause them to change. As a result, I tend to teach and write about texts, people, and time periods that are “on the margins”: comedy and vernacular texts; the enslaved, itinerant performers, non-elite peoples. That is, non-“Classical” texts and topics. In both teaching and scholarship, my conviction is that history and literature are shaped as much by unknown participants and unnamed readers as by “big names.” I want my students to explore and think about history—literary, linguistic, temporal—as something vital in their daily lives. Something they participate in, and something they can change.

Seeta Chaganti (UC Davis) – English (Old and Middle English Literature); Ph.D., Yale University, 2001; M.A., Georgetown University, 1995; A.B., Harvard University, 1989

Seeta Chaganti joined the faculty of the UC Davis English department in 2001. She specializes in Old and Middle English poetry and its intersections with material culture. Her first book was The Medieval Poetics of the Reliquary (Palgrave Macmillan, 2008). Her new book, Strange Footing (Chicago, 2018) argues that to medieval audiences, poetic form was a multimedia experience shaped by encounters with dance. In this work, she proposes a new method of reenacting medieval dance that draws upon experiences of watching contemporary dance. Her current work argues that early English law has enabled both state-sanctioned and extrajudicial violence in the US by naturalizing the relation between whiteness and property. 

Chaganti currently serves as a Trustee of the New Chaucer Society (2018-22); an Executive Board Member of Race before Race; and a member of Medievalists of Color.

Lianne Kurina (Stanford) – Medical: Primary Care and Population Health/Human Biology (Hasenkamp Award)

I am an epidemiologist and have investigated topics from stress, to sleep, to the health of active-duty military personnel. In addition to research and teaching, I direct the Program in Human Biology at Stanford, the second largest major at Stanford. Human Biology is filled with wonderful students eager to pursue interdisciplinary training in order to address some of the most pressing problems facing humanity. 

Since starting my teaching career decades ago, I have been thankful for the opportunity to work with students. One of my favorite courses to teach is introduction to statistics, a delightful challenge because: students are required to take statistics for our major; statistics is, by reputation, extremely boring; and students need to additionally learn a coding language in this course, which many have avoided doing thus far. What I enjoy more than anything is seeing the confidence and ownership students gain with coding and statistics as the quarter progresses. That moment when students transition from dragging their feet and feeling anxious about their abilities to jogging along and asking questions and sharing new code with me – that is just the best.  

It’s hard to imagine anything more satisfying than the job we teachers have of allowing light into peoples’ lives in such a way that they see the world differently. In my mind, things that we don’t understand are opaque and have fuzzy outlines. I think of good teaching as helping to make one small part of the world clearer for students. That is what teaching means to me.

Tom McEnaney. Associate Professor of Comparative Literature, Spanish & Portuguese, and New Media, University of California, Berkeley. 

Tom McEnaney works on the history of media and technology, Argentine, Cuban, and U.S. literature, sound studies, linguistic anthropology, computational (digital) humanities, and new media studies. For McEnaney, the classroom is a laboratory where ideas can be tested and new creations made, a forum where students are challenged to learn to listen to one another, and a community in which they can place their trust in order to be receptive to different perspectives. He has devoted the last decade to creating welcoming and challenging classes that emphasize the importance of academic research in today’s technologically and culturally diverse world. Working in different media such as podcasting, 3D printing, and Excel spreadsheets, McEnaney strives to give students different avenues to reflect on the meaning, value, and relevance of the materials they study. He cares deeply about how material differences change meaning; the medium matters because it helps students consider how meaning changes when one encounters the same basic message on Twitter, in a novel, or on TV. Working in different media helps students understand the unique capabilities of writing text and, in McEnaney’s experience, vastly improves their appreciation for and talent for essay writing. In addition to teaching in the classroom, McEnaney has devoted years to diversity training workshops, student outreach, recruitment, and mentorship. 

Esther Yu. Assistant Professor of English Esther Yu, Stanford University.

As a fellow at the Stanford Humanities Center, Esther Yu has been working on a forthcoming book, Experiencing the Novel: The Genre of Tender Conscience, which argues that subjects in seventeenth-century England claimed political voices through identifying as what they called “tender consciences.” The convictions of Yu’s research have thoroughly informed her pedagogical principles even during these trying times, for as early modern “tender consciences” realized, developing dispositions of care and sensitivity—even to texts that seem strange or initially difficult or irrelevant—can yield world-historical consequences.

Yu is especially mindful of the cultural divide that makes it difficult to ask students grappling with so many crises at once to read epic poems and epistolary novels with the intense receptivity that they require. But it is a challenge she feels especially compelled to take up, not least of all because of her own oblique relationship as a postcolonial subject and minority scholar to the archive of English literature. Yu encourages students from diverse backgrounds to recognize the interpretive urgency—and creative, transformative possibilities—that attend experiences of textual distance and cultural alienation or hostility.

Quick links

Follow our activities

© Phi Beta Kappa Northern California Association

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software