2016 Kemper Fellows
Department of English
College of Arts & Science
MU Faculty Member Since 2007
Alexandra Socarides coined the term “pedagogy of attention” to describe what motivates her. She believes in paying attention to students and teaching them to pay attention to what they think and do, encouraging students to focus on each other, their readings and the greater world.
“It is difficult to anatomize the qualities of such an extraordinary teacher, but certain themes recur: her talent for leading discussion and asking questions, her innovative methods of teaching literature and writing, the inspiration students experience in her courses, and her kindness,” says David Read, chair of the MU English Department.
Socarides hosts workshops in her home. She assists students in finding scholarships and helps them strategize career plans over coffee. Students praise her ability to guide discussions and move them to deeper levels without diminishing curiosity and enthusiasm.
“You can feel the excitement with which Dr. Socarides plans and teaches her lessons and the energy that she brings into class each day,” says Marek Makowski, Socarides’ former student.
Senior Associate Provost and Professor of English Patricia Okker commends Socarides for dedicating more time to commenting on student work than any other professor she knows.
“The results of this investment of time and energy have been remarkable, and that’s why, I think, her students work as hard as they do,” Okker says. “It’s because she works that hard for them.”
Socarides has designed more than 20 new courses; has served on the Honors Council and the Campus Writing Board; and is currently the department’s director of undergraduate studies. She has created programs including a “coffee with majors” series to help students interact with faculty, a mentoring program for incoming English majors and multiple “careers in English” events.
“If more teachers were like her in the world, perhaps we would all appreciate the humanities a little more,” says Makowski. “Perhaps we would all be a bit smarter, a bit wiser, a bit more caring and a bit more empathetic.”
Socarides earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Bates College, a master of fine arts degree in creative writing from Sarah Lawrence College, a master's degree in English from Rutgers University and a doctorate in English from Rutgers University. She is the recipient of numerous awards, most recently the Provost’s Outstanding Junior Faculty Teaching award from the University of Missouri.