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Winner of the CARA Award for Excellence in Teaching

In 2018, CARA is very pleased to honor two individuals for Excellence in Teaching Medieval Studies. We present these awards to Professor Monica Green (Professor of History, Arizona State University) and Professor Emily Steiner (Professor of English, University of Pennsylvania).


Monica H. Green


      For many years now, Prof. Monica H. Green’s teaching has reached far outside the walls of her classroom. Her commitment to integrating questions of science and medicine into the framework of medieval history has been transformative for the discipline. In traditional ways she has dazzled students at Duke University and at Arizona State University who have enrolled in her courses on “Sex and Society in the Middle Ages,” “Heath and Disease,” and more recently, “Global History of Health” spanning from Paleolithic malaria to modern HIV/AIDS.  Her enthusiasm, commitment, and passion are evident in all aspects of her teaching. Professor Green has also trained faculty members to integrate medicine and science into their general medieval history courses. In 2009 and 2012 she ran an and NEH Summer Seminar in London that taught faculty to incorporate bioarcheology and molecular microbiology into humanistic approaches to the history of medicine. Her innovative teaching, including visiting positions at the University of Utrecht (2007) and the University of Seattle (2013), was recognized in 2014 by the Hazen Education Prize awarded by the History of Science Society.

       Professor Green’s unflagging ability to teach the medieval studies community at large, and the public more broadly, distinguishes her excellence as teacher. From generating editions and translations of primary sources, to facilitating outreach to high school teachers, to innovating new coursework and running professional workshops, seminars and online forums, she has broadened the study of the past.  She has also been a stalwart pioneer of the Digital Humanities and is fiercely committed to making information accessible by sharing and circulating free and open bibliographies, syllabi, manuscript handlists, and other research tools to facilitate learning beyond the classroom to broaden the scholarly community and conversation. As the founder of MEDMED-L she has facilitated an on-going conversation that has trained scholars at all levels on the integration of medieval medicine into cultural, social, and economic history. She has also been a consummate mentor to junior faculty, and particularly to female scholars and medievalists of color. As her letter writers note, Prof. Green’s “contributions have made permanently available new models for thinking about aspects of medieval history, gender history, and the broader history of health and disease.” Many more of Prof. Green’s contributions to teaching also exist “in academia’s in-between spaces, like the pages-long responses to MEDMED queries that provide all of the tools a professor might need to train their students on a subject like leprosy or retrospective diagnosis.” It is safe to say we are all – gratefully -- students of Monica Green’s boundless teaching!


Emily Steiner


      CARA also recognizes the Teaching Excellence of Professor Emily Steiner, who has transformed medieval studies at the University of Pennsylvania. Through her intellectual vibrancy and careful close-readings she has guided students – graduate and undergraduate alike – through some of the most challenging aspects of the English canon. Her teaching explores the nexus of literary, devotional, legal, polemical and academic writing that shaped literary production during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries and its reception. It is her extraordinary versatility that makes her pedagogy so effective. Moreover, she has been at the center of an ever-expanding community of scholars in which she is renowned for fostering undergraduate research, guiding graduate dissertations, and making Penn’s manuscript resources accessible to medievalists in the classroom and over Twitter, where she has introduced over 10,000 followers to the humor, beauty, and diversity of medieval manuscript culture.

      It is uncovering and then communicating the process of the work we do that is the real hallmark of Professor Steiner’s pedagogy. Her ability to foster close readings and interpretations of challenging texts while facilitating the careful unspooling of scholarly arguments make her classes and her teaching “scintillating and irresistible.” She has twice been awarded the Undergraduate Advisory Board’s teaching award (2005 and 2013), and the University of Pennsylvania Provost’s Lindback Award for Distinguished teaching (2016). But her pedagogical reach goes beyond the classroom. In “Old English Life” an annual event she has organized on the Penn campus, she brings together undergraduate and graduate students and practicing poets to present translations, new poetry, and mixed media response to texts spanning the Old English corpus. Prof. Steiner has also been an outstanding graduate teacher, advisor, and mentor, demystifying the profession for her students just as she carefully demonstrates how a piece of writing works. As a teacher and mentor, she offers to those around her the admirable combination of “clarity, generosity, and intellectual intensity.” This is wonderfully embodied in her study Reading Piers Plowman, which is both a riveting new reading of the text and a vital resource for teaching the complex poem. Through her brilliant teaching, her enlivened outreach, her nimble readings of texts, and her personal generosity, Professor Steiner is an exemplary teacher.


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