Art History Professor Julia Guernsey Inducted into UT Austin Academy of Distinguished Teachers

D. J. Sibley Family Centennial Faculty Fellow in Prehistoric Art at the University of Texas at Austin Julia Guernsey has been recognized for her outstanding contributions to undergraduate teaching at UT Austin through induction into the UT Austin Academy of Distinguished Teachers. Guernsey has taught ancient Mesoamerican art and culture history in the Department of Art and Art History since 2001, and also offers Signature Courses as well as teaches in the Bridging Disciplines Museums Studies program. She is only the third inductee into the academy from the Department of Art and Art History after professors Linda D. Henderson (2000) and Lewis R. Wiman (1999).

In 2012, the University of Texas System Academy of Distinguished Teachers was established to recognize outstanding educators across the UT System academic institutions. Members of the Academy serve as the system-level advisor and advocacy group dedicated to fostering classroom innovation, promoting interdisciplinary educational perspectives and catalyzing the sharing of best practices across campuses in the UT System.

“Dr. Guernsey has had a deep impact on my experience in the world of higher education and continues to be an enduring fount of encouragement and guidance in my life,” writes one of Guernsey’s former undergraduate advisees and current program manager at the Kinder Institute for Urban Research at Rice University, Katie Floyd Wang. “Dr. Guernsey has taught me about Olemec monuments. She has explained to me the creation stories of the ancient Maya. But more than this, Dr. Guernsey has imparted to me her unwavering belief in education. In my undergraduate years, she inspired me to change the way I think, to view history not as a far-removed, disconnected field, but as a discipline that is helpful to and necessary for our current understanding of the world.”

Six inductees were nominated by their deans and selected through a rigorous evaluation process that included supporting letters from students and faculty. The selection process is led by a committee comprised of current members of the academy, faculty peers, students and administrators. Other 2020 inductees include Erika Bsumek, associate professor in the Department of History; Daniel Birkholz, associate professor in the Department of English; Michele Rountree, associate professor in the Steve Hicks School of Social Work; Meme Drumwright, associate professor in the Department of Advertising and Public Relations; and Sonia Paban, associate professor in the Department of Physics. 

The award comes on the heels of the publication of her latest book, Human Figuration and Fragmentation in Preclassic Mesoamerica: From Figurines to Sculpture with Cambridge University Press. The book examines the relationship between human figuration, fragmentation, bodily divisibility, personhood and community in ancient Mesoamerica, and provides the first comprehensive study of the role of both figurines and sculpture in the development of Mesoamerican figuration.

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