Our People: Eugene Giddens

Faculty: Arts, Law & Social Sciences
Department: ARU blogs- Department of English and Media
Category: #OurPeople

18 September 2017

Eugene Giddens

My job entails teaching, collaborative projects with students, researching and publishing in my fields (Shakespeare and children’s literature).

One of the things I enjoy most is working with students on difficult text (say, a passage of Shakespeare) to generate new interpretations and different ways of understanding literature and the wider world.

My teaching philosophy involves empowering students to be self-assured, informed, and expressive, which contributes to their successes later on in life. I have confidence that our students are prepared to achieve their best, and the best for their communities – whether as citizens who vote on important issues in a changing political climate, as teachers of our children, as managers or effective employees, and as writers able to inform and make positive change happen.

During my time here at ARU, I have mentored and helped students and postdoctoral researchers to achieve their career ambitions, including high-flying academic posts at other universities, including Cambridge, UCL, and Leeds. ARU English has for 40 years had a stirling reputation in the discipline, the research and teaching we conduct in the department prepares our students to compete globally. That thought motivates me each day. It is not a single act, but an attitude of supporting people’s potential and sparking ambition and perseverance.  

If I could offer one piece of advice it would be to read widely. In our daily experience we might really ‘know’ only a handful of people. Reading generates many times that number of intimate encounters with the hearts and minds of others. There is a particular danger at the moment of operating in a ‘bubble’, brought about especially by the illusions of social media. Reading (alongside talking) is one of the few ways we might avoid having our thoughts artificially narrowed.

ARU is almost unique in my experience in encouraging students from very diverse backgrounds (in terms of nation/region, belief, age, and prior educational attainment) to come together, bringing that exciting variety to generate new thinking. I’ve taught in three universities, and none have had such lively, genuinely intellectually challenging, learning environments. 

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