Two CLASS Faculty Members Receive Moores Professorships

The University of Houston College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences (CLASS) is pleased to announce that Professor of English Margot Backus, Ph.D. and Professor of History Nancy Beck Young, Ph.D. have received Moores Professorships. The Moores Professors Program was established to honor full-time tenured faculty who have achieved the rank of full professor at the University of Houston and have made outstanding contributions in three key areas: research, scholarship, and/or creative activities; teaching, and service. Recipients of the award are conferred Moores Professor status for a period of five years

“I congratulate Dr. Backus and Dr. Young on this outstanding distinction which speaks highly of their scholarship, research, and service. A Moores Professorship is one of the highest honors accorded at the University of Houston, and I hope you join me in celebrating their achievement.”
—UH Provost Paula Myrick Short



Margot Backus, Ph.D.
Professor of English

Margot Backus has published extensive writing and research in the fields of queer theory and Irish literature since joining the University of Houston in 2000. She is the author of three books, including 2013's "Scandal Work: James Joyce, the New Journalism, and the Home Rule Newspaper Wars" from Notre Dame University Press. Her latest book project, "The Child Sex Scandal and Modern Irish Literature: Writing the Unspeakable," will be released by Indiana University Press in the fall of 2020. Backus has taught undergraduate courses in queer theory, contemporary Irish literature and the British novel. Topics of her graduate seminars include James Joyce, Irish postcolonialism and British modernism.

"I was surprised to receive this recognition in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, rooted, as it is, in a political culture so contemptuously dismissive of scientific research," Backus said. "Science is so desperately needed to turn our ailing world right-side-up that the humanities seem trivial by comparison. Yet, as an internet meme has it, 'The sciences can tell us how to clone a T-Rex, but only the humanities can tell us why we shouldn't.' Thus, I am proud to accept this honor as an affirmation of the particular contributions the humanities can make in a time of crisis."

"I am recognized, in part, for a forthcoming book about the rise and fall of a religiously-dominated public sphere in Ireland that legitimized the systematic abuse of women, children, immigrants, the elderly and the disabled. While this work won't flatten the COVID-19 curve, it has relevance to our society, which is headed in similar directions. I look forward to producing more of the research that only the humanities can produce while passionately supporting all the vital work of our university."

Throughout her tenure at the University of Houston, Backus has built a reputation as one of the leading teachers, writers and researchers in the Department of English.

"Professor Backus's very full professional life is grounded in her research," said Professor and Chair of the Department of English Ann Christensen, Ph.D. "As she pursues various aspects of Irish literature, culture, and history, she helps shape the direction of that field. I supported her Moores Professorship application because she is generous to our UH community, and I believe she will use her position for the common good."


Nancy Beck Young, Ph.D.
Professor of History

Nancy Beck Young joined the University of Houston Department of History in 2007. She is a prominent scholar of 20th-century U.S. politics, and her research focuses on how ideology has shaped public policy and political institutions. Beck Young has published numerous award-winning books and journal articles; her five books include biographies of Congressman Wright Patman and First Lady Lou Henry Hoover, a study of Congress during World War II, and a narrative history of the 1964 presidential election. Beck Young has taught undergraduate courses on the Age of Roosevelt, 20 th-century Texans in Washington, and presidential elections. She has taught several graduate-level seminars on U.S. political history, U.S. historiography and American ideologies.

"I’m pleased and humbled to be awarded this important professorship," Beck Young said. "I look forward to using the professorship to advance my research agenda along three different paths: an exploration of John Nance Garner's leadership on Capitol Hill from the Progressive Era through the New Deal, an analysis of how the idea of the first lady in American political culture has changed over time, and a study using Texas as the lens to understand changing American attitudes about the efficacy of government from the New Deal to the present. I am especially honored to be the first woman in the Department of History to hold this chair."

Beck Young's accomplishment caught the attention of her colleagues in the Department of History, who praised her commitment to her field and her students.

"On behalf of the faculty of the Department of History, I wish to congratulate Nancy Beck Young for receiving the Moores Professorship," said Philip Howard, Ph.D., professor and chair of the Department of History. "It recognizes Professor Young as a prominent scholar of 20 th-century U.S. politics, and one of the nation's leading historians of the U.S. Congress. She is a major historian in the study of U.S. women's history. In addition to her scholarship, the Moores Professorship recognizes Dr. Young's contributions to teaching and to service."

"Nancy Beck Young's Moores Professorship is an acknowledgement of her exemplary research, teaching, and service to UH," said Associate Professor of History Monica Perales, Ph.D. "Her dedication to her scholarship, her students, and her colleagues is inspiring. I cannot think of a more fitting way to recognize her impressive accomplishments."