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Classics Lecturer wins book prize for addressing difficult topics in the classroom

Dr Fiona McHardy, Principal Lecturer in Classical Civilisation at the University of Roehampton has won the inaugural Teaching Literature Book Award for her co-edited book From Abortion to Pederasty: Addressing Difficulty Topics in the Classics Classroom.

Posted: 7 September 2015

image for news story Classics Lecturer wins book prize for addressing difficult topics in the classroom
From Abortion to Pederasty: Addressing Difficulty Topics in the Classics Classroom co-edited by Dr Fiona McHardy from the Department of Humanities.
The prize, awarded by Idaho State University (ISU), honours a book that excels in blending current research with curricular planning and classroom methods. The aim of the prize is to encourage excellence in the teaching of literature by recognising a book-length work on literature pedagogy at the post-secondary or graduate level.

Professor Jessica Winston at ISU, chair of the award committee, explained that the aim of the edited collection was to assist lecturers in classical studies to address possibly disturbing subject matters.

She said: “The book prepares instructors to teach a range of topics related to ancient Greece and Rome, providing advice on how to deal with topics students can find troubling such as rape, death, disability and homosexuality in classical times”.

In its commendation, members of the award committee praised the book’s ‘jargon-free prose’ and ‘up-to-date Classics research with pedagogical practice’ as well as its contributors’ ‘exemplary command of subject matter alongside admirable openness about their own classroom experiences, describing successful strategies as well as lingering questions and uncertainties’.

Dr McHardy said: “I have used several of the techniques I outline in the book whilst teaching my students subjects such as Violence and Law in Ancient Greece. In addition to teaching these challenging topics in a supportive way, where students are able to ask questions, I provide links to support services on their virtual learning environment, which they can access any time they want to.

“I have also worked closely with the student welfare team to deliver training to other teaching staff in handling difficult disclosures from students resulting from classroom discussions and developed a system whereby tutors can readily refer students in need to support services.”

The advice given in the book has also been used as an example of best practice by the Higher Education Academy (HEA) guide on embedding equality and diversity in university classrooms.

The winning book is co-edited with Nancy Sorkin Rabinowitz from Hamilton College, New York. Dr Susan Deacy, Principal Lecturer in the Department of Humanities also co-authored a chapter with Dr Hardy.

The Teaching Literature Book Award is an international juried prize awarded biennially by the staff on the PhD programme in English and the Teaching of English at ISU.

Dr McHardy is Programme Convenor for Classical Civilisation and History undergraduate programmes at Roehampton and is a Principal Fellow of the HEA.

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