Jeffrey H. Richards, Professor and Chair of the Department of English at Old Dominion University, inspires his students, colleagues, and readers. His talent for biography and his knowledge of early and nineteenth century American literature compel serious attention. He is the author of five books and a prodigious number of articles and critical reviews. His books include Early American Drama, Mercy Otis Warren, and Theater Enough: American Culture and the Metaphor of the World State, 1607-1789. His insightful analyses and depth of scholarship draw motivated students to his classes and set them on a course of lifelong enrichment. His reputation for work of high quality has enabled his students to build reputations for work of high quality also. One student explained that Professor Richards' drive came from "an abiding passion for exploring how American literature reflects the soul of the nation."
Professor Richards has taught classes in several phases of American and British literature and drama. He has taught graduate seminars on Edgar Allan Poe, American drama in the age of Eugene O'Neill, and drama and theater from the period of colonial America to the civil war. His undergraduate seminars have highlighted Nathaniel Hawthorne and Henry James. He has taught introductory courses in fiction, literature, film criticism, and filmmaking. His historical surveys of literature, arts, philosophy, and religion have provided the foundation of the humanities program. He developed a junior honors course entitled "The Literature of Love and the Western Tradition."
Professor Richards' commitment to scholarship carries over to community and professional service. He enchanted Friends of the Library at our 1998 Fall Forum with readings and commentary on Emily Dickinson in combination with vocal renditions by Jo Ann Sims of the Department of Music. He served as Program Chair of the Society of Early Americanists for its national conference in Norfolk in 2001. He is currently a member of the editorial board of the journal Early American Literature.
For his contributions to scholarship and the vibrant intellectual life of Old Dominion University, the 2002 Outstanding Achievement Award of the Friends of Old Dominion University Library is presented to Professor Jeffrey H. Richards.
Jean A. Major