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Polymath (and Goth Loving) Scholar in Residence

A polymath professor at the University of Texas at Austin spent a week on The Holy Hill as the 2017 Ben Geer Keys Scholar-in-Residence in October.
Elizabeth Richmond-Garza serves as the Director of Comparative Literature at UT but teaches courses in three different departments and is fluent in 10 languages. For the record, that includes courses taught in the English Department, the Middle Eastern Studies Department, and the Department of Human Dimensions and Organizations, and that includes French, German, Italian, Latin, Greek, Russian, Hebrew, Spanish, Dutch, Portuguese, and English. She also has quite the passion for theater and vampires.

Dr. Richmond-Garza's current research is focused on European culture of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and she has also won numerous awards for teaching excellence.

In addition to a whirlwind presentation to the student body in an extended community meeting, where she explored topics ranging from social media to Oscar Wilde, she sat in on or guest taught a number of courses during her week at Episcopal. One of those courses was Jeff Streed’s Latin class.

“Dr. Richmond-Garza connected so quickly with my students and our rare book collection,” Streed said. “She made wonderful connections between engravings from one of our 19th Century books and the Latin from a 15th Century text. The students just loved it.”

She visited Eleanor Moore’s Advanced French Topics class on the second day of her stay at EHS as the six students (Henry Barrett '18, Corbin Ellington '18, Alex Keller '19, Kayla Murphy '18, Anna Smith '18, Eleanor Sobottka '18) were in the early stages of reading Le Père Goriot.

“Together we considered Balzac's 19th-century audience, and discussed the major characters of the novel, including the idea of the city of Paris as a character or central figure in the story,” Moore explained. “I loved hearing the class respond to Dr. Richmond-Garza's questions and offer their own insights about the ambition of Rastignac and the intentions of Vautrin, as well as weigh in with their thoughts regarding Balzac's social criticism.”

She also paid a visit to Whit Morgan's Shakespeare class.

"Dr. Richmond-Garza infused our ongoing discussion of Hamlet with considerable energy and expertise," Morgan said. "Using various film clips of the famous 'Get thee to a nunnery' scene, she helped unpack Ophelia's powerlessness in that crucial moment, given the spying eyes of her father and King Claudius and her genuine concern for her former love. The students loved her!"

Her ability to move from class to class and between disciplines so adroitly was a rare treat.

“She connected so quickly and genuinely, across so many courses and areas of study, with our faculty and our kids,” said Assistant Head for Academics Mary Fielder. “I’ve never witnessed anything quite like it.”