Historian Larry Wolff Earns Teaching Award

By Mark Sullivan
Staff Writer

Prof. Larry Wolff (History) an Enlightenment scholar celebrated for bringing art and music to his classes, has won the coveted annual Teaching Award voted by students of the Boston College chapter of Phi Beta Kappa.

Larry Wolff (Photo by Perri Klass)
"Larry Wolff is a wonderful historian who brings his students on an almost real-life journey through the past," said Phi Beta Kappa member Michael Meng '01, who has studied under Wolff and this spring earned a Fulbright Grant and a Mellon Scholarship.

"He does not settle on 'traditional' classroom strategies," added Meng, a Keystone Heights, Fla., native. "When he teaches about Mahler, he brings the whole class to Symphony Hall to hear his work live. Now, that's teaching and having fun at the same time, two things he does so well."

The Phi Beta Kappa Teaching Award annually honors the finest practitioners of the teacher's art on the Boston College campus, and is particularly prized by faculty because it is voted by students.

Wolff described himself as "deeply grateful and moved" to be chosen for the Teaching Award. "A professor is always honored to be recognized by his students, and especially honored to be recognized by his best students," he said.

"I have been dazzled by the intellectual quality of my best students in course after course over the last 15 years at Boston College," he said. "I believe that it must be the challenge of every professor at BC to try to teach courses that are worthy of the intelligence, sophistication, enthusiasm, curiosity, and engagement of our students."

Wolff has written extensively on the intellectual and cultural history of early modern Europe. His latest book, Venice and the Slavs: The Discovery of Dalmatia in the Age of Enlightenment, is newly released from Stanford University Press. His previous books are The Vatican and Poland in the Age of the Partitions (1988), Postcards from the End of the World: Child Abuse in Freud's Vienna (1988), and Inventing Eastern Europe: The Map of Civilization on the Mind of the Enlightenment (1994).

His cover article for the latest Boston College Magazine, "Fire and Ice: On the Trail of Edvard Munch," is at www.bc.edu/publications/bcm/spring_2001/features.html.

Wolff currently teaches courses on Rome and the Vatican and on culture and Communism, as well as a seminar on historical writing that focuses on the travel journals of Captain Cook.

His skills in the classroom have led history majors in Phi Beta Kappa to consistently nominate him for the Teaching Award since its inception in 1990, said chapter advisor Assoc. Prof. Richard Tresch (Economics).

"Larry is the sort who makes other academics jealous - a superior teacher who is also a superior researcher," said Tresch.


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