by Carly Schnitzler, Graduate Communications Editor
This past week, English and Comparative Literature Teaching Associate Professor Dr. Hilary Lithgow welcomed 3000 prospective members of Carolina’s Class of 2023 and their families on Admitted Student Day. Her speech about teaching and research across the disciplines struck a chord with these new students.
Lithgow foregrounded her talk with her belief “in the power of stories” and then spoke about her class on the literature of war in which she brings in local veterans to share their experiences with the civilian and veteran students taking the class. She says of the class: “I am really interested in how hard it is to talk about certain aspects of human experience. For me, this is where the real value of literature is to be found.” Lithgow continues, “there’s a connection between struggles about how to act, and literary one[s] about how to express ourselves in words.”
Her speech underscored the value of effective and meaningful communication, saying, “people like to tease English majors for loving old books and obscuring language, but there is nothing old fashioned or obscure about being able to communicate clearly. It’s a skill we need for school, of course, and for work, but it’s also something that we need in our lives, in our very human lives.”
Lithgow has taught at UNC since 2011. She specializes in nineteenth-century British Literature and the literature of war and has twice received UNC’s Joseph Flora Award for Excellence in Teaching Literature. She teaches undergraduate courses on a range of topics from British Literature Surveys and first year writing classes to a course about what books you should take to a desert island. She also serves as the Undergraduate Advisor for students in the Department. of English and Comparative Literature and as a Faculty Mentor to student veterans across the university. Since 2016 she has taught writing to active-duty military service-members and to veterans returning to college through the Warrior Scholar Project, and since 2015 she has co-lead a book group for military veterans that meets at the Chapel Hill Library.