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Jonathan Hall, Malynne Sernstein receive Quantrell Awards for teaching

The University of Chicago Chronicle reports that two Humanities Division professors have been honored with 2009 Llewellyn John & Harriet Manchester Quantrell Awards for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching. The Quantrell Award is the nation’s oldest prize given for undergraduate teaching.

Jonathan Hall, the Phyllis F. Horton Professor in Humanities, and Professor and Chair of Classics and Professor in History, said he tries to disabuse undergraduates of the idea that history is about regurgitating facts and dates. “I want them to see the history that I am passionate about: history that is an active process of engaging with primary documents, looking at the material culture, questioning how authors have synthesized materials and considering the context of the authors. Did they get it right? It’s an interrogative process.”

Malynne Sternstein, Associate Professor in Slavic Languages and Literature, tries to make her classrooms a haven where students are comfortable enough to share conflicting ideas. And in an effort to provoke substantive discussion, she’ll assign difficult, even obscure texts. “If you teach a well-known text,” Sternstein said, “some students will already have a cocktail-conversation answer ready. They come into class with preconceptions about the text. It’s very hard to dislodge.”

For more information, see the full Chronicle article.

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