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English Professor McCracken-Flesher Receives UW’s Highest Faculty Award

May 2, 2016
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Caroline McCracken-Flesher

Recognized as one of the world’s leading scholars in 19th century literature and Scottish studies, English Professor Caroline McCracken-Flesher has been selected to receive the University of Wyoming’s highest faculty honor, the George Duke Humphrey Distinguished Faculty Award.

Named for UW’s 13th president, the award recognizes a faculty member “who, in addition to acclaim as a teacher, has achieved distinction as a scholar in research or other creative activity, and who has given distinguished service to the university.”

During a 27-year career at UW, McCracken-Flesher has excelled in all of those areas.

“Perhaps because it is small, UW needs and encourages faculty to embrace a full academic career of teaching, research and service,” McCracken-Flesher says. “That keeps us true to our discipline and to our students, for it reminds us how our work matters in and beyond the university.”

She says UW has always supported her efforts to explore new knowledge and to pass it on.

“The classroom, in turn, becomes a crucible for student innovation,” McCracken-Flesher says. “And UW students impress me every day as they learn what’s new, then take their own original steps beyond.”

McCracken-Flesher’s teaching is legendary.

“She has long provided some of the nation’s most cutting-edge graduate seminars in Scottish literature, on the novel and on the history of medicine, among many other topics which are the equivalent of what one would find at the highest-ranked universities in the United States and abroad,” says UW English Professor Susan Frye, also a widely recognized scholar.

As a scholar, McCracken-Flesher is prolific: She has published two critical monographs from Oxford; one scholarly edition of a 19th century text; four edited collections; one edited journal and an anthology; as well as 21 refereed journal articles, 10 refereed book chapters and two refereed conference papers.

"Whether she is challenging students at all levels to push themselves further, or whether she is publishing high-profile scholarly volumes that shape the state of her academic field, McCracken-Flesher strives to serve the University of Wyoming, the humanities in general, and society, too, through developing our ways of seeing and understanding the world," says UW Department of English Chair Peter Parolin.

Her publications establish her as one of the world's foremost authorities on Scottish literature. As her distinguished outside recommenders note, her book on Walter Scott changed the way scholars think about this foundational writer, Parolin says.

Such insights are appreciated internationally. Penny Felding, the Herbert Grierson Chair of English Literature at the University of Edinburgh, where McCracken-Flesher served as a visiting scholar, praised McCracken-Flesher's efforts in 2011 to organize an International Walter Scott conference at UW.

"She has made many friends in our field, all of whom value her intelligence, her intellectual friendship and her company in all sorts of ways,” Felding wrote.

Frye, dean of UW’s Outreach School, described McCracken-Flesher’s work as a researcher and a publisher by referring to her 2005 work, “Walter Scott and the Story of Tomorrow.”

“It created a media sensation in the United Kingdom, firmly establishing her as one of the most pre-eminent -- if not the pre-eminent -- scholar of 19th century Scottish literature in the United States, and quite possibly in Scotland itself,” Frye says.

McCracken-Flesher received a Master of Arts degree from Edinburgh University, Scotland, and M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from Brown University. She also spent two years at Oxford University as a graduate student. She has received numerous awards for teaching and research, including UW's highest teaching honor, the John P. Ellbogen Meritorious Classroom Teaching Award. 

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