Community engagement


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Professor Kilcup’s wide-ranging community engagement includes twenty-five years as a presenter for regional humanities councils such as the New England Council for the Humanities, the Massachusetts Humanities Council, the Maine Humanities Council, the New Hampshire Humanities Council, and The North Carolina Humanities Council.  She has been a commentator on BBC Radio and served as an Advisory Scholar for National Public Radio’s series, StoryLines New England (part of the StoryLines America project).

In addition to publishing community-engaged scholarship that includes Nineteenth-Century American Women Writers: An Anthology and Over the River and Through the Wood: An Anthology of Nineteenth-Century American Children’s Poetry, she has fostered students’ community involvement and helped them improve their local environments.

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KK image color small from author picSpeaking at public libraries, to local reading groups, to high school classes, and to organizations like the Girl Scouts of America has been enormously rewarding. Among other benefits, such involvement enables those outside of academe to understand what we do and why. Sharing my recovery scholarship on American women’s writing, for example, generates audience excitement and questions: How did you discover Laura Jacobson’s “The Wooing of Rachel Schlipsky”? Why haven’t I heard of Native American women like Ora Eddleman Reed? Where can I read more?

My teaching often entails community involvement by my students.  My literature and environment students, both undergraduate and graduate, have been particularly active and effective. One class prepared a campus transportation plan emphasizing bicycles and presented their plan to the university’s Sustainability Committee; another group developed a series of editorials for the local newspaper. A graduate student who worked at REI created one of my favorite projects, designing and implementing a series of summer environmental workshops at her branch. Combining literary texts with practical examples, the workshops addressed such topics as water use, land and species preservation, eating locally, alternative/renewable energy, and alternative transportation. Each seminar featured talks by representatives of relevant organizations such as a local watershed protection project and farmer’s markets. Working with students to design such programs enables me to extend the reach of my teaching and research–and promote engaged citizenship.

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