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The Source

Gross wins Graves Award for humanities teaching excellence

April 02, 2008

  • Karen Gross

Karen Gross, assistant professor of English, has won the Graves Award in recognition of her outstanding accomplishments in teaching the humanities.

Gross will use the $10,000 award to support work on her book-in-progress, which explores Chaucer and his Italian sources and the intellectual exchanges between England and Italy during the later Middle Ages.

A 1997 University of Southern California graduate, Gross received her PhD from Stanford in 2005 and joined the Lewis & Clark faculty the same year. Her scholarly interests revolve around the reception of classical texts, medieval literary theory and education, medieval biography, humanism, and the relationship between literature and the visual arts.

“Karen’s receiving of the Graves Award in the Humanities serves not only to acknowledge her inspirational and effective teaching in all her classes,” said Kurt Fosso, associate professor of English and director of the College’s Exploration and Discovery core course program, “but also to shine a well-deserved light on the very high quality of teaching one finds in every department and program at Lewis & Clark.”

In her forthcoming book, Gross examines what Chaucer borrowed from Italian sources and, more important, the Italian literary innovations that he rejected.

“By examining what Italian qualities Chaucer does not carry over into his own poetry—and what he creates in their stead,” Gross said. “I not only clarify Chaucer’s work but also invite readers to rethink how literary influence operates and how we describe the interactions of northern and southern Europe during that transitional moment between the medieval and the early modern periods.”

The Arnold L. and Lois S. Graves Award is administered by Pomona College and the American Council of Learned Societies. It is given in alternate years to select young professors teaching at liberal arts colleges in the West.

Gross’ accomplishment continues a string of Graves Award successes by the Lewis & Clark faculty. David Campion, assistant professor of history, won the award in 2006, as did Rebecca Copenhaver, associate professor of philosophy, in 2004, Nora Beck, professor of Music, in 2000, and Alan Cole, professor of religious studies, in 1998. To learn more about faculty and staff achievements, visit Printed and Presented online.