Elizabeth Outka

University of Richmond Professor Receives Top State Honor

Faculty Awards

English Professor Elizabeth Outka Named Outstanding Faculty
December 20, 2023
Elizabeth Outka

UNIVERSITY OF RICHMOND — University of Richmond professor Elizabeth Outka has been named an Outstanding Faculty Award recipient by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia.

The SCHEV Outstanding Faculty Awards are the highest honor for faculty at Virginia's public and private colleges and universities, recognizing superior accomplishments in teaching, research, and public service. Nominees are selected by their institutions, reviewed by a panel of peers, and chosen by a committee of leaders from the public and private sectors. 

“We have many outstanding faculty at the University of Richmond, and it’s wonderful to see our professors recognized for their contributions to their fields of study and dedication to teaching,” said Joan Saab, executive vice president for academic affairs and provost. “We are fortunate to have Elizabeth among our community of scholars.”

Elizabeth Outka, professor of English and Tucker-Boatwright Professor of Humanities, has been teaching at the University of Richmond since 2008. Outka’s scholarship and teaching focus on 20th-century literature and culture. Her latest book, the award-winning Viral Modernism: The Influenza Pandemic and Interwar Literature, investigates how the deadly 1918-1919 influenza pandemic reshaped the modernist era. She has written on topics ranging from consumer culture and postcolonial representations of trauma to disability studies. 

“I have spent my career advocating for the importance of the humanities and for the vital role literature plays in reimagining our worlds, easing our isolation, alerting us to complexity and nuance, and connecting us to other lives,” said Outka. “I remind students that literature is not a secret language they have to decode. It is a force that shapes and produces culture and meaning.” 

Elizabeth is one of the most accomplished, dynamic, and versatile specialists working today in the broad area of literary modernism,” said Jenny Cavenaugh, dean of the School of Arts & Sciences. “Her work goes well beyond her students. Earlier this semester, she co-coordinated the first UR faculty and staff research symposium, yet another avenue through which she is engaged in enhancing the intellectual life of our campus community.”

Elizabeth is the latest UR faculty member to receive SCHEV honors. Management professor Jeff Harrison and law professor Julie McConnell were honored last year.