Professor, Department of English, UMD
Former President, UMD Chapter, AAUP
As a scholar and professor at the University of Maryland, Tita Chico helps expand students’ knowledge regarding British literature of the 18th century. She serves as the faculty director of the Center for Literary and Comparative Studies and received a visiting fellowship to New College, University of Oxford.
As a leader in efforts to revitalize the University of Maryland chapter of the American Association of University Professors Association, Chico advocates for a “people-centered” university that lives the values of justice and racial and gender equality.
What makes you excited about your job?
Teaching and researching literature means that I study the stories we tell about ourselves. These stories shape who we think we can be, whether tied to the past or to the present. Working with students as they learn the power of words and the ways that language shapes reality is exciting every day. Digging into our collective histories — the research that I publish — regularly teaches me what it means to be a member of my community and how what might seem like the distant past is, in fact, inextricable from our present moment.
How has your organization and your work changed because of the pandemic?
A university is special because it fosters sustained face-to face engagement among students, staff and faculty. Turning to a virtual classroom has been challenging and exhausting, running the risk of cutting off those intellectual connections we develop through teaching and research. It’s also been invigorating in some ways, allowing us to use these platforms to develop communities beyond campus.