June 17, 2011

Howell D. “Chick” Chickering, the G. Armour Craig Professor of Language and Literature, has received the 2011 CARA Award for Excellence in Teaching Medieval Studies from the Medieval Academy of America (MAA). Chickering said he was delighted to have received the award, which he described as “national public validation of [his] work as a teacher at Amherst College.”

According to the MAA, the CARA Award recognized and celebrated Chickering’s contribution to the field of Medieval Studies and to the teaching profession, and honored him as an “exemplary and outstanding” teacher of Medieval Studies whose work has been “remarkable and consistent.” Chickering prevailed over 17 other nominees to win the honor, which he received at the annual meetings of the MAA this April.

Past students submitted beaming reviews about Chickering in support of his nomination, emphasizing how he “brought the texts to life for his students, and how he changed their lives.” Wrote one student, “What Chick transmitted to you was a total, unrestricted love of the subject, the subject being learning, and learning being exercising the brain, laughing, not understanding and not understanding till finally you got it.” Other former pupils said they continued with medieval studies while others did not, but all recounted the lasting beneficial effects of Chickering’s classes on their education and “intellectual formation.”

Chickering has taught in the Amherst English department since 1965. He offers first-year courses as well as classes that focus on Chaucer, Old English and Beowulf. In addition, he has collaborated with colleagues on courses and articles and participated in three NEH summer Institutes. He has published numerous articles on Beowulf and Chaucer and a book, Beowulf: A Dual-Language Edition, which has gone through three editions. He is currently co-editing two different collections of essays, composing multiple articles and writing a book of literary criticism entitled Chaucer and the Sound of Poetry.