Stephanie Harzewski

Excellence in Teaching, 2016

Professor Stephanie Harzewski and students

"What often makes an excellent teacher," says Stephanie Harzewski, "...is the ability to work through fatigue."

It's an apt statement from this senior lecturer in English whose students characterize her as consistently energetic, passionate, funny and challenging. They say she's available on Skype at all hours and she'll come in early or stay late to help them with their writing. What sets her apart, notes one student, is that "she genuinely cares about her students and would do anything to see them succeed both in the classroom and in life." That kind of dedication takes energy, indeed.

Professor Harzewski has been tireless in curriculum development, as well. She's created several classroom-based literatures courses and also played a leading role at UNH in online offerings. One of her most successful courses, entitled "Sex and Sensibility: The Rise of Chick Lit from Jane Austen to Bridget Jones," was profiled at both international and national conferences for exemplary online pedagogy. The course arose from research for her book, "Chick Lit and Postfeminism," published by University of Virginia Press, a work that exemplifies the active scholarly agenda she pursues to inform her teaching.
Professor Harzewski's success in the classroom is achieved through organization, enthusiasm and integrity. Consider her teaching of Samuel Beckett's absurdist play "Waiting for Godot," a work famously reviewed as "a two-act play in which nothing happens twice." She notes that, sometimes, by the third day of discussing this work, she's inclined to feel as if she's in the "nobody comes, nobody goes" purgatory of the play. But she's ready and springs into action. She turns to comic relief, using the Sesame Street "Monsterpiece Theater" parody of the play, and employs the Socratic method to rally students out of the seeming pointlessness of the play, to expose its rich engagement with the meaning of life. Every class meeting must and will have purpose and meaning. She insists upon it. "There are typically no deus ex machina solutions for the teacher and students," says Professor Harzewski. "We work together to save ourselves from repetition."

Presented By: Heidi Bostic, Dean, College of Liberal Arts

About This Award

Each year, the University selects a small number of its outstanding faculty for special recognition of their achievements in teaching, scholarship, and service. Awards for Excellence in Teaching are given in each college and school, and University-wide awards recognize public service, research, teaching, and engagement.