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Marva Barnett


Photo by: Christian Hommel Photography

Founding & Executive Director and Professor

The following represents Marva’s bio when she retired from the CTE in 2016.

Since 1990, as Founding & Executive Director of the UVa Center for Teaching Excellence, Marva Barnett works with faculty and TAs from across the University. Her current CTE projects include co-directing the University Academy of Teaching, overseeing the NEH Distinguished Teaching Professorships, and serving on the Ignite advisory committee.  She is proud of having received the Thomas Jefferson Awardthe Elizabeth Zintl Award for Leadership, and the Excellence in Faculty Mentoring Award. For over three decades, Marva has partnered with students to make courses the best learning experiences possible.  Her pedagogical interests include helping students develop as lifelong learners, engaging them in defining their interests and goals, and facilitating their becoming critical thinkers, researchers, and good writers.

Marva’s research projects have ranged from baroque French theater to second-language acquisition work on reading and writing, to Victor Hugo’s works. She is currently working on a book about the inspirational power of Hugo’s Les Misérables. For her work in promoting French language, culture, and literature—especially Hugo’s works—the French Government named her chevalier de l’Ordre des palmes académiques. She has published in The French ReviewThe Modern Language Journal, and Foreign Language Annals, among other journals. Her interest in the importance of reflective thinking in humanities led her to accept the Thomas Jefferson Visiting Fellowship at Downing College, University of Cambridge (2000). Particularly committed to connecting her research and teaching, Marva is gratified to have received the Pimsleur Award for research and the Freeman Award for pedagogy.

With roots in both Virginia and Utah, Marva Barnett completed her B.A. in French and English at Westminster College, Salt Lake City. After completing her M.A. thesis on the theme of love in chosen works of Victor Hugo at the University of Maine at Orono, she specialized in seventeenth-century French tragicomedy for her Ph.D. work at Harvard University. Always interested in teaching as well as research, Marva accepted positions involving training and supervising graduate teaching assistants (GTAs) in French at Purdue University and Indiana University before settling at the University of Virginia.  Marva is currently an affiliated faculty member in Drama, Comparative Literature, and the Writing Program.