Dean’s Award for Excellence in Teaching
Ph.D. Candidate in History
Jacqueline Allain is a seventh-year Ph.D. candidate in history and is also pursuing certificates in Feminist Studies, College Teaching, Writing in the Disciplines, and Latin American and Caribbean Studies. Her research focuses on the colonial British and French Caribbean, with an emphasis on women and gender during slavery and in the post-emancipation era. She earned her bachelor’s in history at the University of Toronto, and has a master’s in history from Duke and a master’s of education in curriculum and instruction with a focus on literacy from the University of Virginia.
Allain has served as an instructor of record and teaching assistant at Duke since 2018. She has been described as an engaging, conscientious, and effective instructor. Specifically, in her teaching of the WRT 101 course in 2022 on “Feminism Around the World,” she showed her thoughtful contributions to students’ development and engaged students in considerations of cultural notions of feminism, associated activist movements, and political praxis. Additionally, Allain routinely considers and applies culturally responsive pedagogy as she develops lessons and writing tasks.
She has also served as a writing consultant at the Duke Writing Studio, where she has conducted hundreds of collaborative, non-evaluative writing consultations with undergraduate and graduate students working on a wide range of writing projects.
What do you enjoy about teaching?
There are many things I enjoy about teaching, but my favorite aspect of teaching is watching students encounter new ideas and interesting texts for the first time. I remember particular moments in my life when I first read certain books or essays, thought about something in a new way, or felt an idea click. When you teach, you get to sort of reexperience that feeling again and again.
How have you evolved as a teacher compared to when you first started?
I am much more organized about lesson-planning than when I started. When I first taught, I thought I could just jot down some discussion questions before class and basically wing it. Now I carefully plan each class meeting to try to draw out student engagement in different ways.
What is something you have done as a teacher that you are really proud of?
It’s impossible for me to answer this question briefly or without emotion. I am proud of the number of students who have told me that my classes have inspired them to pursue further study in history and social theory. I feel honored to have been able to teach so many of the texts and ideas I’ve taught, and I hope that sense of weightiness is evident to my students. At a moment when so much is at stake—academic freedom, the humanities in higher education, and the ability to teach the truth about history, all of which are under direct assault across our country—I strongly believe in the importance of this work, and I am proud to be a part of it.
IN THEIR WORDS
Excerpts from Allain’ nomination
“Jacqueline is thoughtful and attentive, truly excelling at student-led pedagogy and focusing her sessions on a writer’s priorities.”
“Jacqueline’s conscientious course planning and teaching methods created an intellectually rigorous yet welcoming environment for students. Moreover, she demonstrated colleagueship in her active participation in both a pre-semester writing pedagogy workshop and in monthly workshops with fellow Graduate Student Instructors during the semester in which she taught.”
“Jacqueline not only thoughtfully embraced the pedagogical development she received in the Writing Studio, and sought out further development elsewhere, she began to actively mentor other graduate students who were new to the work, and to do so sensitively and effectively.”