Dr. Alexander wins award

Libby Dunn, Staff Writer

Dr. Andy Alexander, winner of the Balsley-Whitmore Excellence in Teaching Award and WSC English professor, presented on the “Limits of History in Historical Literature” last Wednesday afternoon in the Humanities Building.

The Balsley-Whitmore Award is presented annually to a tenured or tenure-track English faculty member at Wayne State College. Funded by the Balsley-Whitmore Endowment, which honors the late Howard and Irol (Whitmore) Balsley, the award is given to a faculty member who exemplifies the teaching mission of WSC.

“You get the award at the beginning of the academic year, so I got the award in the fall,” said Alexander. “Then, sometime over the course of the year, your obligation is to present a paper to the public, which is what I presented today.”

Alexander said he heard he had been chosen for the award over the summer, so he began the process of choosing a topic for his paper early. While teaching senior seminar last fall, he said he kept track of various thoughts that had to do with limits of history in historical literature.

“I thought, ‘well, this is something I’ve been thinking about, I’ve been reading about, and I have many thoughts on,’” said Alexander.

This topic he chose, “The Limits of History in Historical Literature,” addressed the role historical truth plays in historical literature.

“My hope is to stake out a kind of middle ground view,” Alexander said. “One that neither insists on the complete fidelity to historical truth, nor absolutely ignores it, but rather grants it a limited, but still significant role in the literary works for which it forms the subject matter.”

After his presentation, Alexander opened up the floor to questions from the audience. There were many people in attendance, including last year’s winner of the Balsley-Whitmore Award, Dr. Maria (Becky) Zavada.

“I really enjoyed his presentation and I think it’s a great opportunity to merge your teaching with your scholarship, and so it is wonderful to see other professors here engaging with something that was inspired by students,” said Zavada. “That was the case with my own presentation as well. It was from my teaching that I found my topic for the Balsley-Whitmore, I think that is so fitting because the Balsley-Whitmore is a teaching award.”

Along with faculty members, WSC students were in attendance.

“I just recently changed my major from clinical lab science to history, and I saw the word ‘history’ on the flyer, so I was like ‘yes,’” said sophomore Micala Gatchet. “The presentation made me think more in-depth on what exactly historical literature is and what separates it from historical fiction.”

Along with the Balsely-Whitmore award comes a sum of money for the winner to use in support of his or her teaching. While unsure of a definite plan yet, Alexander said he has an idea of what he will use the money for.

“Though this has yet to be worked out, I would like to give the money to the scholarship funds,” said Alexander. “It is supposed to be for the benefit of the program, and to me, an obvious way to benefit this program would be to help with scholarships. Whether or not that counts with the foundation as a legitimate use of the money is not certain, but that’s my hope for use of the money.”