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Jeffrey Robinson Named Hazel Barnes Award Winner

University of Colorado Boulder English Professor Jeffrey Robinson has won the university's highest teaching and research honor, the Hazel Barnes Prize, for his work in the area of Romantic literature and poetics.

Robinson holds degrees from Harvard University, the University of Chicago and Brandeis University. He said his Hazel Barnes Prize, which carries a $20,000 award, is recognition of his 32-year career at CU-Boulder.

"I feel genuinely awestruck that I got the award," Robinson said. "We have a truly extraordinary faculty in all fields. To be chosen out of that pack of wonderful people is overwhelming."

Robinson's career has been balanced by the mutual influence of research on teaching and teaching on research. One of his first books, "Radical Literary Education: A Classroom Experiment with Wordsworth's 'Ode," is an example of his dual focus on both Romantic literature and poetry as well as how to teach and think about them.

"That book has had a good life – it's one of the few that talks seriously about the nature of pedagogy in literary study," he said.

In the last decade, Robinson has become interested in rethinking the nature of lyric poetry itself. "This has informed a lot of my writing in the last 10 years. It's also very much my way of teaching. I teach several courses that focus on fundamentals of lyric poetry. We read a lot of poems and ask 'What is a poem?'"

Robinson said one of the reasons he's been drawn to Romanticism is that the Romantic poets are continually asking and answering that same question. Though he's concentrated mostly on British authors, he's also maintained an interest in American and continental European Romanticism.

Earlier this year, Robinson won a National Endowment for the Humanities senior fellowship to work on a particular project. He will take a year off from teaching courses at CU-Boulder to work on a new book, "Poetics of the Fancy: A Counter-Romanticism." The book examines how Romantic poets thought about the nature of poetry and whether there were competing views.

"That's my main project. I've published several books of poems about Romanticism and I'm working on more poetry,” he said, citing a project for next year on Wordsworth “that is part poetry and part diary.”

Robinson plans to use the money from the Hazel Barnes Prize to make some research trips, buy books and write and ponder the literary questions that have defined his distinguished career. He's published 13 books, won a Guggenheim fellowship and four CU-Boulder faculty fellowships, in addition to his Hazel Barnes Prize.

The Hazel Barnes Prize was established at CU-Boulder in 1991 to recognize the enriching relationship between teaching and research. The $20,000 award is the largest single faculty prize funded by the university and is named in honor of philosophy Professor Emerita Hazel Barnes. Noted for her interpretations of the works of French philosopher Jean Paul Sartre, Barnes taught at CU-Boulder from 1943-1986.