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Winner of the CARA Award for Excellence in Teaching

This year, for the first time, CARA has initiated two full and distinct awards for Excellence in Teaching Medieval Studies. We are very happy to present those awards to Professor Peter Beidler and Professor Timothy Graham respectively. These teaching awards recognize excellence in the wide variety of teaching that medieval scholars practice, from formal classroom teaching in a college or university setting, to in-depth seminars and graduate mentoring, to online teaching, summer institutes, and academic publications devoted to pedagogy and teaching Medieval Studies.

Peter G. Beidler is the Lucy G. Moses Emeritus Distinguished Professor English at Lehigh University. He has published widely on Chaucer, Native American fiction and American literature and has produced numerous edited projects. In 1987-88 He taught as a Fulbright professor in China. Over the course of his career he has won numerous teaching awards, including the Senior Lindback Award for distinguished teaching at Lehigh University in 1994, and the Junior Lindback Award for distinguished teaching 1971; in 1983 he was named a “National Professor of the Year” by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education under the Carnegie Foundation; and in 1995 he held the Robert Foster Cherry Chair for Distinguished Teaching at Baylor University. His career is also distinguished by the fact that he has published over forty articles and books on pedagogical practice, ideas, theory and the joys of teaching, including the well-known and oft-used Why I Teach (2002) and Risk Teaching (2011), which have proved inspirational to their readers. As those who nominated him noted, his teaching takes place in many venues: at the lectern, in seminars, in asking probing questions and in more radical forms, like renovating a house as a class exercise when teaching Thoreau, and in heroic acts of support for graduate students facing difficult times. Pete, as he is most commonly known to students and colleagues alike, has been an inspiration across his career; this award is in honor of his dedication to teaching our subjects.


Our second Award for Excellence in Teaching goes to Professor Timothy Graham, Professor of History, and Regents’ Professor in Arts and Sciences at the University of New Mexico, where has also served as the Director of UNM’s Institute for Medieval Studies from 2002 to the present. Not only has Tim Graham been recognized as a distinguished teacher at UNM, where he was awarded the UNM College of Arts and Sciences Award for Teaching Excellence in 2010, he often gives community lectures and works with the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, his teaching has also reached far beyond his own campus and community to touch the careers of many young scholars who have had the opportunity to participate in the series of Summer Seminars that he has convened: In 1998 he used a Gladys Krieble Delmas Support Grant to direct a Summer Institute in Archival Sciences at The Newberry Library. From 1997 to 2001 he received a National Endowment for the Humanities Award for co-directing a summer seminar for college teachers and most recently, in 2014, he ran an intensive summer workshop at UNM entitled “Paleography and Codicology: A Seminar on Medieval Manuscript Studies,” which was widely attended and recognized as being transformative for those scholars who took part and have nominated him for this award.

His seminars have resulted in the publication of his well-known and oft-used text, co-authored with a former student, Raymond Clemens, Introduction to Manuscript Studies (2007), which has become a standard text for those beginning work with medieval manuscripts. He was praised for his ability to teach both the rigors of manuscript methods, which require meticulous attention to detail, while also able to share a passion for the subject and an abiding interest in the theories of how to think about texts. In the words of one letter, his exercises “made paleography and codicology into exciting detective work rather than the tedious enterprise it first appears to be.” What is more, Prof. Graham succeeded in teaching a course of this nature at a university without manuscript holdings, rather taking advantage of facsimile editions, digital collections, and practical exercises. Many commented on how their experiences in his summer seminars were simply “invaluable” for moving to the next phase of writing and research. This award is in recognition of Prof. Graham’s reach as a teacher in many different venues and his profound generosity, which has created a “sense of community” that reaches far beyond his departmental and university setting.

Respectfully submitted,
Lilla Kopar
Frank Klaassen
Anne E. Lester, (Chair)



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Opinions expressed by members in print, video, or online represent their personal views, not necessarily those of the Medieval Academy of America.

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