Curtis Teaching Prize awarded to Nikolaus Wasmoen

April 2, 2014

Nikolaus Wasmoen headshotSixth-year PhD student Nikolaus Wasmoen has been awarded the University's 2014 Edward Peck Curtis Prize for Excellence in Teaching by a Graduate Student. Currently serving as a Dean's Teaching Fellow in two of Professor Morris Eaves' courses on the concept of "The Digital Page," while also assisting in a course taught by Professor Bette London on the Twentieth-Century British Novel, Wasmoen has continually found dynamic and eye-opening ways of sharing with students a set of unique skills garnered while writing his ambitious, highly interdisciplinary dissertation on the role of the author-editor in the construction of literary modernism.

In Professor Eaves' courses on "The Digital Page," Wasmoen has devised a series of weekly humanities-lab assignments, which take place in a computerized classroom and require students to work together in small groups. These assignments may ask students to create an interactive edition of an eighteenth-century text, for example, or to produce a four-dimensional map tracking the provenance of an early collection of Shakespeare's works. Throughout both courses, Wasmoen has brought alive an extraordinary range of topics in media history, from oral and manuscript cultures, to early typesetting technologies, to seventeenth-century book-buying practices, to telegraphy, to typewriters (and everything in between).

Wasmoen's depth of experience in considering the social and material aspects of literary texts and culture have likewise translated to his work in Professor London's course on the Twentieth-Century British Novel, where he has undertaken to supplement readings of major works by leading investigations into pivotal episodes in their editing and publication. From week to week, Wasmoen may guide students in thinking about the precedent-setting obscenity trial of D. H. Lawrence's The Rainbow, for example, or about the role of periodicals in shaping the reception of James Joyce's fiction.

Throughout these endeavors, Professor Eaves writes, Wasmoen has proven endlessly "inventive, independent in spirit, and yet unfailingly collaborative," steering his classes toward ever-greater heights of "integration, exploration, and discovery": as Wasmoen himself explains, "My central aim as a teacher is to set in motion a process of continuous experiment, reflection, and revision that students can use in their work long after our semester together has come to a close."

The Department congratulates Nick on receiving this great honor!