November 21, 2014  

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Southern Miss’ Jameela Lares Named Humanities Council Teacher of the Year

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Dr. Jameela Lares

Department of English professor Jameela Lares was recently named the University of Southern Mississippi’s Teacher of the Year by the Humanities Council. Lares will present her award-winning research in a lecture entitled, The Ghost of Rhetoric: Milton's Logic and the Renaissance Trivium. The lecture will be held Nove. 21 at 5 p.m. on the Hattiesburg campus in the Liberal Arts Building, room 108. This lecture is free and open to the public and will be followed with a reception.

Mississippi Humanities Council (MHC) is a private nonprofit corporation funded by Congress through the National Endowment for the Humanities. MHC sponsors, supports, and conducts a wide range of programs designed to promote understanding of our cultural heritage, interpret our own experience, foster critical thinking, encourage reasonable public discourse, strengthen our sense of community, and thus empower Mississippi's people with a vision for the future.

Lares has been working on a lightly annotated Latin-English edition of John Milton’s Logic, or Artis Logicae Plenior Institutio (1672), first transcribing the 240-page text from its Latin original and then translating it into modern English. She is currently checking both other logic texts from Milton’s period and modern secondary criticism to ensure her work choice is accurate. The resulting edition of Milton’s Logic will be included in the multi-volume Complete Works of Milton being published by Oxford University Press. Though the work on Milton’s Logic has spanned several years, Lares was only recently able to devote her full attention to working on the transcription, translation, and annotation.

In addition to her work on Milton’s Logic, teaching numerous classes, and preparing for her 8th teaching trip to London this summer with Southern Miss’ British Studies Program, Lares also hosts a reading of Milton’s epic poem Paradise Lost every spring. Lares along with interested students and community members, read aloud the 10,565 lines of epic at her home over a period of about 12 hours.

“Milton was blind, so Paradise Lost was actually spoken before it was written. Milton dictated it and had it written down. That’s why it sounds so good read aloud,” said Lares.

Lares has published two books on Milton. Milton and the Preaching Arts was published in 2001, and just published in 2012 was Paradise Lost, books XI and XII, part of the Variorum Commentary on the Poems of John Milton, both with Duquesne University Press

“My specialty is the literature of the earlier 17th century and especially Milton. He is an interesting person. He homeschooled his nephews and some other students, so he understood teaching too,” said Lares.

Lares began teaching at Southern Miss in 1995. She has taught Milton, 17th Century Prose and Poetry, Renaissance Literature, History of Rhetoric, Literary Study of the Bible, Children’s and Adolescent Literature, World Literature, and is teaching Freshman Honors Composition 1 and 2 this semester, just to name a few. Lares loves teaching and working with her students and believes in making each person feel valued.

“I’m committed to teaching using my research. I’ve never had a student I didn’t like. Part of my pedagogy is to let students know they are important,” said Lares.

In addition to being recognized for her research and work at Southern Miss, Lares was awarded a $500 honorarium. Lares will also be honored, along with other recipients from across the state, in Jackson, Miss. next spring.

“It’s a shock,” said Lares about the award. “I’m pleased that my colleagues think me worthy of such an honor. I’m still excited that I got this job. I have far too much to do, but it’s all good stuff. I’m still passionate about what I do. Ideally, everyone will go off and read Milton now.”