USD Professor Receives Prestigious Award for the Teaching of Humanities

A University of San Diego professor has been selected to receive the prestigious Graves Award for the teaching of humanities.

Amanda Petersen, an assistant professor of Spanish in the Department of Languages and Literature, is the first USD professor to receive the Graves Award in the Humanities, which supports the work of outstanding faculty members in their early years of teaching. Under the award, administered by Pomona College, Petersen will receive $5,625 to deepen her research on the representation of gender and violence in 20th and 21st century Mexican literature by female authors.

“I’m very excited to receive this fellowship that will allow me to expand my research to include the U.S.-Mexico border regions, contribute more significantly to current scholarship on ghosts and ruins in Mexican literatures and to facilitate my students’ intellectual engagement with the border regions,” said Petersen who began teaching at USD in 2008. The Graves Award “will allow me to seek out new sites and sources to actively engage students in the intellectual exploration of the border region, both in and out of the classroom. Approaching these topics in literary texts in Spanish will complement the learning about and awareness of the border that USD students are receiving from faculty affiliated with USD’s Trans-Border Institute.”

Metaphorical and literal ghosts and ruins “appear insistently, even obsessively, in texts by contemporary Mexican women writers,” said Petersen, who plans to update and expand a course, “Ghosts of Mexican Literature” for the 2013-14 school year. Her analysis of these works “suggests these fictional characters become ghostly due to symbolic violence – being silenced or forgotten – and physical violence – abuse or rape,” Petersen said.

“Petersen’s receipt of the Graves award will continue to put USD students at the intersection of teaching and innovative research,” commented Dr. Mary Boyd, dean of USD’s College of Arts and Sciences. “Exploring the portrayal of violence and gender in Mexican literature on the border, Dr. Petersen will geographically expand her research and further highlight how literature can impact authors and cultures alike.”

According to Pomona College, the Arnold L. Graves and Lois S. Graves Awards are intended to reward “outstanding accomplishment” in actual teaching of the humanities. The Graves also conceived the humanities as “areas of subject matter which deal not merely with facts about men and women and the world in which they live but which are calculated to interpret life and give meaning to experience – in other words to produce men and women of understanding as contrasted with those trained to be technically proficient.”

The Graves Awards, given every two years, are limited to faculty members of private, liberal arts colleges in California, Oregon and Washington, encompassing 40 schools.

About the University of San Diego

The University of San Diego sets the standard for an engaged, contemporary Catholic university where innovative Changemakers confront humanity’s urgent challenges. With more than 9,000 students from 69 countries and 50 states, USD is the youngest independent institution on the U.S. News & World Report list of top 100 universities in the United States. The university's eight academic divisions include the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Business, the Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering, the School of Law, the School of Leadership and Education Sciences, the Hahn School of Nursing and Health Science, the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies, and the Division of Professional and Continuing Education. USD's Envisioning 2024 strategic plan capitalizes on the university’s recent progress and aligns new strategic goals with current strengths to help shape a vision for the future as the university looks ahead to its 75th anniversary in the year 2024.