Vol. 19, No. 31
May 18, 2000
Barbara T. Gates, Alumni Distinguished Professor of English and Women's Studies, has received an award that recognizes her as one of the nation's leading women scholars.
She has been awarded the Founders Distinguished Senior Scholar Award from the American Association of University Women (AAUW) Educational Foundation. This honor, open to women in all academic disciplines, recognizes a tenured woman at the pinnacle of her academic career for a lifetime of outstanding teaching, publication and impact on women in her profession and community.
Gates said the award is particularly meaningful to her since the competition is nationwide, across all disciplines. "And, considering AAUW's impact on education and women, it is a very important award," she said.
Currently on sabbatical, Gates is finishing the third in a series of three books dedicated to women and science. The first, Natural Eloquence: Women Reinscribe Science, consists of 14 essays about women--some of them scientists, some translators of scientific language, who have "repackaged science" to make it more accessible to the public. Written with Ann Shteir, associate professor of humanities and director of the graduate program in women's studies at York University in Canada, the book features women who have altered literary history, women's history, the history and sociology of science and the history of education.
The second book, Kindred Nature: Victorian and Edwardian Women Embrace the Living World, published by the University of Chicago Press, is a celebration of women naturalists, scientists and nature writers of the 19th and early 20th centuries. The illustrated book combines Gates' scholarly research in the Victorian period, her interest in women's issues and her avocations of bird watching, nature study and animal advocacy.
The third book, which also will be published by the University of Chicago Press, is a companion anthology to Kindred Nature, featuring the primary texts of the women naturalists and scientists.
Gates, who taught the University's first course in women's studies in l971, refers to herself as a teaching scholar. "As we work together, drawing upon those areas, which I myself am pondering and writing," she said, "I have found that my students have often enriched, inspired and challenged me, rather than the other way around. I am deeply attached to the art of teaching as communication, and I am genuinely fond of students as people. These dual attachments often make the hardest days brighter.
"I have never in my life not wanted to go into a classroom on any given day," Gates said. "A friend of mine once told me, 'Barbara, you should pay the University for the privilege of teaching. You love it so much.'"
With a strong commitment to change, Gates is known for keeping her courses in an ever-evolving state and for her innovative course development. Over the years, she has taught or team-taught a number of special courses designed around what she calls "a wedding of my avocations and vocation."
Among these courses are ones in landscape and nature poetry, poetry and ecology, nature writing, nature and Victorian poetry, ecofeminism and team-taught courses in nature and human nature, landscape awareness, landscape and literature.
Additionally, Gates was one of the first UD professors to introduce Native American writing into the curriculum, and she has taught across cultures in all of the introductory genre courses in English. Additionally, she has team-taught some of her Victorian courses with professors in sociology and art history.
Her previous books include Victorian Suicide: Mad Crimes and Sad Histories, published by Princeton University Press in 1988; Critical Essays on Charlotte Bronte, published by G.K. Hall in 1989; and Journal of Emily Shore, published by the University of Virginia Press in 1991.
At the University, she has been honored with the excellence in teaching award and the E.A. Trabant Award for Women's Equity. She was named the 1995 Delaware Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.
Gates has been teaching at the University since joining the faculty as an assistant professor in 1971. She became a full professor in 1988 and has also served as a visiting professor at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, and at the University of California at Davis. She served as the acting director of the Women's Studies Interdisciplinary Program in 1992.
She received her bachelor's degree in English and history from Northwestern University in 1958 and her master's degree from Delaware in 1961. She received her doctorate as a Danforth Fellow at Bryn Mawr College in 1971.
The AAUW Educational Foundation's other prestigious annual awards to recognize excellence in achievement include the Annie Jump Cannon Award in Astronomy, given in conjunction with the American Astronomical Society, honoring a woman astronomer pursuing significant postdoctoral research; the Eleanor Roosevelt Fund Award that biennially honors an individual, project, organization, or institution for outstanding contributions to equity and education; and the AAUW Recognition Award for Emerging Scholars which recognizes the early professional achievements of a nontenured woman scholar who has a record of exceptional early accomplishments and who shows promise of future distinction.