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April 28, 2011 Volume 32, No. 29

Meet the Kempers: Elizabeth Chang


Assistant Professor of English

In her British of the 19th Century classes, Elizabeth Chang illuminates Victorian literature and culture in all of its facets, from children’s literature to vampires. Chang, who joined MU’s faculty in 2004, is respected by students and colleagues alike for her ability to ask questions that motivate them to embark on their own process of discovery.

 By asking how and why at the right times, Chang turns conventional views about the Victorians’ imperial tendencies or their sexual repressiveness from clichés into prompts for exploring issues and problems inherited by society. One student says, “She asks her students to view the larger issues and how they affect society, gender or other topics.”

Chang says that when students have difficulty responding to works that pose aesthetic and philosophical questions, she has solutions. “We cannot understand what authors were writing about unless we also understand what they were looking at,” she says. “This goes for art as well as for texts in their original form.”

She uses handouts, mini lectures, supplemental materials from peer-reviewed Internet sites and review sessions to aid in student learning. “All of these will only advance the cause if an initial connection to the material has already been made,” she says. “No connection can occur unless students are known as whole people, respected for their maturity, credited for their capacities, forgiven for their gaffes and expected to grant these honors to their professor and to their peers.”

She received a bachelor of arts degree, magna cum laude with honors in English and Chinese literatures in 1995 from Yale University and a doctorate in English in 2004 from the University of California–Berkeley.

Chang is the author of Britain’s Chinese Eye: Literature, Empire and Aesthetics in Nineteenth-Century British Literature, published in 2010 by Stanford University Press.