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French professor wins Sheedy Award

CHARLIE DUCEY | Thursday, October 17, 2013


Professor Julia Douthwaite, professor of French and Francophone Studies, has earned the 2013 Sheedy Excellence in Teaching Award for her dedication to undergraduate students, the University stated in a press release on Oct. 16.

The Sheedy Award is given to a professor in the College of Arts and Letters each year to recognize the amazing work they do in a number of areas, including research, innovation, and perhaps most importantly, in classroom instruction, the report stated.

As a general reaction, Professor Douthwaite said she was surprised and honored to receive the award. 

“My students consider me a hard teacher, so part of me was surprised that I was selected,” Douthwaite said. 

 “I make sure that every day is a special day – every day is a really exciting day for the class. I try to ensure that our discussions are intense, and so the students and the instructor must be thoroughly prepared.”

In her fall semester course titled “Art of Interpretation: Paris,” Douthwaite said she is focusing on teaching her students to refine their analytical skills in a text-based class. In another fall course, “Advanced Composition: Art of Writing,” she said proper French grammar and writing is essential. 

“I am real tough on my students in their writing. I think this is a result of the way that I approach my own writing,” Douthwaite said. “My standards for my students are as high as the standards for myself. I want to give them the opportunity to really improve.”

As part of her own writing, Douthwaite said she has recently translated her own book on 18th century France into French, which is entitled “The Frankenstein of 1790 and Other Lost Chapters from Revolutionary France.” Douthwaite said she works on her writing year round, though she places her priority on teaching during the academic year.

Douthwaite’s research interests, taken into consideration in her reception of the Sheedy Award, involve 18th century France. Her focus was fine-tuned during her years of study, in which she said she was impacted by many great instructors of her own.

“I wrote an article on why I became a dix-huitiémiste – a person who studies 18th century France – and had the opportunity to thank some wonderful instructors, three of whom taught me at the undergraduate level,” Douthwaite said.

Important to Douthwaite are the stories that her professors told, which inspire her form of teaching today. 

“Telling great stories through teaching is what I think it’s really all about,” Douthwaite said.

On Dec. 12, Douthwaite will be officially presented with her Sheedy Excellence in Teaching Award in McKenna Hall at 3:30 p.m

While the real honor has already been bestowed through the recognition of the work that she does each day, Douthwaite said she is excited for the ceremony.

“Being recognized for teaching is really amazing. There are so many professors who teach as well as if not better than I do,” Douthwaite said.

Contact Charlie Ducey at cducey@nd.edu