Teaching

KK with Easy snipThe recipient of a U.S. national Distinguished Teacher award, Professor Kilcup has taught at eleven institutions in the U.S., U.K., and Switzerland, including Tufts University, Colby College, the University of Hull, and Universität Bern. Encompassing high school pupils to postdocs, her students have included first-generation university attendees and Phi Beta Kappa members. They have come from the Caribbean, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East, as well as across the U.S. and Europe. Their ethnic, age, religious, and class backgrounds are equally diverse. Many of Kilcup’s graduate and undergraduate students have won essay prizes; after completing Teaching Internships with her, several of her PhD students have received departmental or College teaching awards.

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My current institution, the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, is the most diverse in the UNC system, offering unparalleled opportunities for fruitful discussions both in and out of the classroom. I’m deeply proud of my students’ accomplishments and equally grateful for their enthusiasm and support. My graduate students include:

Dr. Gregory Byrd, Professor, St. Petersburg College

Dr. Heidi Hanrahan, Associate Professor, Shepherd University

Dr. Deidre Hall, Visiting Assistant Professor, Westfield State University

Dr. Kelly Richardson, Associate Professor, Winthrop University

Dr. Erin Wedehase, Assistant Professor, Wake Tech Community College

Dr. Elizabeth Wilkinson, Associate Professor, University of St. Thomas

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Representative comments from a recent graduate-level course:

“Dr. Kilcup’s ability to draw insights out of students is admirable. She has a way of posing questions (sometimes in series) that gets students beyond surface-level concerns and also out of our comfortable jargon.”

“Dr. Kilcup is a fantastic instructor–I’ve learned a lot not only from the readings but also from the pedagogy–her willingness to ask difficult questions, and wait for discussion and ideas to unfold. Her theoretical approach–with full development of context and history and secondary sources–is also so useful!”

“Kilcup takes an invested interest in her students and our work. She is always looking for ways to encourage us to do even better work and also to help us find our academic paths. I’ve been very grateful for her multiple approaches to final projects and also the class presentations this semester. She is the perfect balance of pushing vigor and supportive compassion.”

Representative comments from recent upper-division undergraduate courses:

“I haven’t had to think so deeply before in other English courses! She’s awesome and really pushed us to think off the page.”

“This course is very challenging, but worth the hard work.”

“Professor Kilcup was by far my favorite teacher this past semester. She was engaging, interesting, funny, and very knowledgeable. I truly enjoyed her class, as it made me think and read in different ways.”

“Awesome teacher!”

“Karen is one of the best teachers I’ve had. Her comments on papers are clear and thought-provoking. Discussion is an important part of her class, and she leads with a trust in her students that makes people comfortable to speak, challenge each other, and help each other learn.”

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In 1866 the visionary African American feminist Frances E. W. Harper addressed an audience of white women at the Eleventh Women’s Rights Convention.  Harper describes her family’s descent into poverty after her husband’s death, conjuring for her listeners a familiar fate.  With ironic humor, she recounts how the estate administrator left her and her children only one item: a mirror.  Her outrage is palpable: “I say, then, that justice is not fulfilled so long as woman is unequal under the law.  We are all bound up together in one great bundle of humanity.” Harper inspires my students and myself; her speech models a cohesive, challenging, and community-based pedagogy that I emulate.  Recovering the work of many nineteenth-century American writers and sharing that work with students at all levels and of all ages–as well as teaching new ways to understand and appreciate canonical writing–has been my ongoing challenge and best reward. Occasionally I hear from a former student like this one, whose encouragement reminds me again why I teach: “I am so grateful for everything you taught me and how kind you were to me. . . . I’m married to a private school English teacher and the father of two small daughters, and when it’s time, they will hear about Emily Dickinson from us, and that is largely thanks to you. And I wanted you to know that. And I am so, so grateful.”

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