Kimberly Huth, associate professor of English, has taught many courses during her time at CSUDH, but no matter if she’s teaching a first-year composition or one on Renaissance tragedy, Huth strives to bring her students from a surface understanding to the very core of the subject.
Specializing in Renaissance literature, Shakespeare, poetry, drama, and critical theory, Huth incorporates a wide range of materials into her curriculum in order to help her students delve into the subject matter–from films and historical documents to marriage advice manuals and histories of the colonies in the new world.
Huth’s dedication to her students’ learning experience, active literary criticism through publications and presentations, and academic and community service has garnered her the 2022 Presidential Outstanding Professor Award, which honors CSUDH individuals for their teaching, commitment to their desired field, and work outside of the classroom.
“It’s incredibly flattering,” Huth says. “It was also a huge surprise. There are a lot of really deserving faculty members on this campus, so it’s an honor to have even been nominated for this award. I know I’m just one of many outstanding professors on this campus.”
Huth has been a member of CSUDH’s faculty since 2014, after earning her MA and PhD at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and teaching stints at Ithaca College, Virginia Commonwealth University, and Knox College. Although she’s now been teaching for almost two decades, Huth didn’t always plan on becoming a professor.
A first-generation college student, Huth got her bachelor’s degree from New York’s Ithaca College. She initially enrolled as an English major with a creative writing minor, and had no intentions of teaching. Unfamiliar with the idea of graduate school, she credits her professors for helping her discover a path that she couldn’t quite see herself–until she encountered Shakespeare.
“I thought that I would get my degree, do both English and creative writing, and then come home and, I don’t know, find something to do,” Huth recalls. “But after I took my first Shakespeare class, my professors saw something in me, my potential, and helped me to get on the pathway to graduate school.”
“As one of my professors put it, I ‘fell in love with argument,’” she laughs. “I realized creative writing wasn’t really what I was interested in. I was interested more in the critical analysis side of studying literature.”
That interest hasn’t waned and is what continues to motivate her as a professor – how to engage her students in a way that also excites them and empowers them as critical thinkers.
In her Shakespeare class, for example, Huth emphasizes to her students that every staged or filmed adaptation of Shakespeare is simply one approach and one opinion about the play’s meaning. She encourages them to bring their own ideas and thoughts to their own engagement with the work.
“I try to supplement Shakespeare with a lot of other things from our culture, from his culture, and from various other points. I want students to think that ‘Shakespeare’ is sort of an ongoing process, and we determine what he is like at every turn,” she says.
When Huth isn’t teaching her students about poetry or literary theory, she is the English department’s “subject matter point person,” as she puts it. She meets with students who wish to enter a teacher program after CSUDH, discusses their portfolios, and guides them toward their subject matter certification. She also enjoys being a unofficial consultant to campus theatrical productions.
“One of my favorite things I have done on campus was when the theatre department put on Romeo and Juliet a couple of years ago. I worked with them and spoke with the students about the language. That was really fun. I’m always looking out for inter-department connections like that,” Huth says.
Huth is currently working on a paper discussing class and gender intersections in early modern marriage, and recently presented at a conference session focusing on Pericles, a later Shakespeare play. Huth has also been nominated for the CSUDH Lyle E. Gibson Distinguished Teacher Award in both 2017 and 2022.
Because she started on her own academic journey without a clear vision of where she would end up, Huth says that the help she got from her own professors is what continues to inspire her in guiding her students to their best selves. The idea that her passion for English and for the futures of her students has been recognized by others fills her with appreciation.
“I’m just grateful for that, for the belief that my colleagues and students have had in me, and for their support,” she says.