The Unsung Heroine Award recognizes a woman who has demonstrated extraordinary dedication to issues that face women at Duke or in the larger community, but whose efforts have not received formal recognition.
2008 Award Winner: Dr. Denise Comer
Dr. Denise Comer, Director of First-Year Writing, is developing an equitable and socially conscious work environment for the more than twenty post-doctoral fellows engaged in teaching writing at Duke. One of her nominators wrote, “Denise has tirelessly defended the rights of women in the workplace, and has implemented a wide range of initiatives designed to help faculty with families balance the demands of academics with the demands of the home. She has been actively researching the ways in which demands of parenting and teaching intersect and has been crucial in fostering a workplace culture that values teachers as parents and parents as teachers.”
Denise Comer has been teaching academic writing courses at Duke since 2000. She grew up in Northern Virginia, earned her B.A. in English from Virginia Tech, her M.A. in English from the University of Maryland at College Park, and her Ph.D. in Nineteenth-Century British Literature and Women’s Studies from the University of South Carolina. Prior to teaching at Duke, she taught composition and literature at the University of South Carolina, at Chico State, California, and at Butte Community College. Her Academic Writing course (Writing 20) on postcards was featured in Duke Magazine in 2006, and in Fall 2008 she will be teaching an academic-writing course on the challenges and contexts of philanthropy. She has published articles on such issues as teaching travel writing, images of the child in 19th-century British women’s Indian travelogues, and electronic response to student writing. Her current work includes a project on strategies for effective and long-term teacher training and development, and a project on faculty pregnancy and parenting in the context of first-year writing. She lives in Raleigh with her husband, Dave, and enjoys spending time with their two sons, Owen and Ethan. She is expecting her third child in November 2008.