Department of English

Professor Douglas Bruster joins the Academy of Distinguished Teachers

Tue, April 29, 2014
Professor Douglas Bruster joins the Academy of Distinguished Teachers
Photo credit: Debby Garcia of the Daily Texan staff

Congratulations to Professor Douglas Bruster, who along with five other UT faculty members, has been inducted into the University’s Academy of Distinguished Teachers.

Gregory L. Fenves, executive vice president and provost, had this to say: "These six faculty members represent UT's outstanding faculty for their dedication to our students and the university's goals of educating, inspiring and preparing graduates to be leaders."

The academy was created in 1995 to recognize tenured faculty members who throughout their careers have maintained significant contributions to education, particularly at the undergraduate level. Membership is limited to 5 percent of tenured faculty. Members remain in the academy for the duration of their time at the university.

The faculty members were named to the academy based on recommendations from an ad hoc faculty and student committee that reviewed nominations of faculty members. Deans nominate faculty members with input from others in the faculty, students and academy members from their departments. With the 2014 class, the academy has 125 members.

The academy serves as an advisory group to the executive vice president and provost on teaching excellence and will provide institutional leadership and guidance for the distinctive undergraduate experience available in our research university environment.

For more information about the Academy, visit their website. And keep reading for an interview with Professor Bruster!


So, Dr. Bruster, when you were a kid, what did you want to be “when you grew up”?

In order: a paleontologist (dinosaurs, naturally); FBI agent (the television series); and nuclear physicist (I think it sounded impressive at the time). Then as a teenager I read Shakespeare, and that was that.

Do you have a class that you particularly enjoy teaching and if so, why?

I enjoy teaching the survey course, English 316, for non-majors. It's especially gratifying to hear students say that they've rediscovered the pleasures of reading.  

In September of last year, you had an article published in Notes and Queries that confirmed through analysis of Shakespeare’s unique handwriting that he contributed five additional passages to Thomas Kyd’s The Spanish Tragedy. This discovery was quite exciting to people interested in Shakespeare and his collaborations with Thomas Kyd and got a great deal of media attention. Have you done any work related to or building on this discovery since last September? In what ways do you think the large amount of popular attention has been beneficial to Shakespeare studies?

Along with an expert in statistics here at UT, Genevieve Smith, I'm currently completing a study of the chronology of Shakespeare's plays, which includes attention to the Additional Passages to Kyd's Spanish Tragedy. As for Shakespeare's popularity, this year marks the 450th anniversary of his birth, and 2016 will mark four centuries since his death. During the next two years, we're quite likely to see more books and articles on Shakespeare than we know what to do with--which is, of course, a very good thing.

What’s one of the crazier things that’s ever happened in one of your classes?

I'm always surprised whenever discussion leads us to a factual question, and, after a slight pause, someone bursts out with an answer from the Internet. Yesterday a student saw Abraham Slender's choice of a white cloak for disguise prior to eloping in The Merry Wives of Windsor  as rendering him a symbolic bride. I said that that was intriguing, but for the reading to work historically we'd want to find out when brides started to wear white. I had just started to move further into the play when another student proclaimed, triumphantly, "Queen Elizabeth, 1840!" I smiled, asking politely if the website said "Victoria," which it apparently did. While to our students moments like these are far from crazy, to someone from my generation it's not how you expect conversations to work.

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