- Ph.D. Anglophone and Francophone Postcolonial Literature, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
- M.A. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
- Post-B.A. Courses in American Literature, Georgia State University
- B.A. American English Literature, Emory University
This spring, the Student Government Association nominated Associate Professor of English Keith Mitchell for the Excellence in Teaching Award for UMass Lowell’s College of Fine Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences (FAHSS). Professor Mitchell specializes in African American, Caribbean, Nineteenth and Twentieth-century American literature and has been awarded numerous honors and excellency awards throughout his career as a teacher and a scholar.
“No matter what discipline a student is majoring in, I feel that they can bring unique perspectives regarding reading and analyzing literary texts.”
How do you ensure online students receive a high-quality learning experience?
“Faculty in the English Department who also teach online have designed their courses to be as rigorous and hopefully as interesting as the courses they teach face-to-face during the day school. My classes are based on interdisciplinary methods of teaching.
“For example, in the Harlem Renaissance course, not only do students read wonderfully provocative texts (novels, short stories, plays, and poetry) by Black American writers during one of the most fruitful periods in American literature, the 1920s and 30s. In addition to being introduced to important Black writers of the era such as Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, and W. E. B. Du Bois, students are also asked to think about important Black cultural development during the Harlem Renaissance, such as blues and jazz music and visual art by prominent African American creatives.
“One of my objectives in this class is for students to understand that all these forms of expression, in some ways, are related and provide them with a clearer understanding of just how politically and creatively vibrant the Harlem Renaissance was.
“Likewise, in my online American Literary Traditions course, an interdisciplinary approach to teaching and learning is key to the class’s success. In this course, I mix and match various American authors from the Puritans through the twenty-first century to show students that American literary history primarily consists of important conversations, through writing, between and among American authors.”
What advice do you have for students in the program?
“The best advice I can give students is to learn to manage their time well. Time management is one of the keys to success in any online program and life.
“I would also advise students to reach out to their professors when they are struggling or when any issues arise regarding the online courses they are taking. Instructors are always willing to help students; however, instructors cannot help students if they are unaware of any issues students might have regarding classes or their personal lives.”
What are your passions and hobbies outside of teaching?
“Not surprisingly, outside of my teaching, I really enjoy reading for pleasure. I have always been curious about the lives of other people, unlike myself, and reading for pleasure gives me the perfect opportunity to dip in and out of other places and cultures.
“I am also a huge music enthusiast. Thanks to my eldest brother, I grew up listening to all kinds of music, from classic rock to jazz and blues music to R&B and rap. I grew up during the late 70s, and so I particularly have a love of musical artists from the 70s-early 2000s.
“Finally, I also enjoy watching mystery movies and television shows. My favorite crime sleuths are Sherlock Holmes, Miss Marple, and Hercule Poirot.”
What do you love most about teaching UMass Lowell students and why?
“I really enjoy interacting with and getting to know our online students. Although my courses are primarily designed for our English Studies Majors, I am always thrilled to have students from other disciplines enrolled in my classes. No matter what discipline a student majors in, they can bring unique perspectives regarding reading and analyzing literary texts.”