To this day I believe that the War Literature course was the best course I ever took in school and that Dr. Armitage was the best professor I ever had. Because of Dr. Armitage, I am a better writer, reader, thinker, and attorney. No other professor at UNC has remained with me throughout my career as has Dr. Armitage. If anyone deserves a lifetime achievement award, it is this professor whose positive influence has remained with this former student throughout a lifetime.
Such is the praise offered time and again for this member of UNC Chapel Hill's English faculty for over 40 years. He joined the UNC faculty immediately upon receiving his Ph. D. from nearby Duke University having arrived in America soon after receiving Bachelors and Masters degrees in English Literature at Oxford University and another Masters degree in Canadian literature at Western Ontario University. Throughout his many years in the United States Prof. Armitage has maintained deep connections to his native England through teaching and writing about its most notable authors. He has also returned to the UK numerous times accompanied by groups of UNC students and generously shared with them his knowledge of Shakespeare and other writers but also of other notable cultural institutions, including Rugby matches and English pubs. As Prof. Armitage liked to note when recruiting students for his summer study abroad programs in England, "I am well acquainted with the language."
Students who have accompanied him to England often comment on his extremely high level of personal engagement, which was so strong it was impossible for them not to become equally engaged in the literature they studied and the various sites they visited. For many students accompanying him to England, whether as part of his yearly summer programs in Oxford, or during one of the semester-long programs he has also directed in London, was a transformative experience.
I can honestly say that Christopher Armitage is responsible for one of the most memorable experiences of my life. Whether we were attending a performance with world renowned actors, reading sonnets on a sunny patch of grass, or simply talking informally, Armitage made Shakespeare--and London--come alive for me.
A scholar of amazing breadth, Professor Armitage has taught over 20 different English courses over his long career in the Chapel Hill classrooms. These have included Modern Poetry and Drama, Shakespeare, Seventeenth-Century Prose and Poetry, Milton, Literature of the Two World Wars, Freshman Composition and First-Year Seminars. In all his courses, his students and colleagues report that he was able to promote a high level of intellectual discourse while maintaining exceptional personal contact and motivation.
Dr. Armitages's requirement that students submit papers to his critical pen was both intimidating and rewarding. While he meticulously pointed out the errors of grammar and syntax, and ways to improve certain passages, he was also quick to praise innovative thinking and artfully worded phrases. Dr. Armitage pushed me to not only write more clearly and concisely, but also to think and to understand more fully what I was reading, what I was saying, and the effect on the listener.
Christopher Armitage has also shared his knowledge across the State of North Carolina by long service with the Carolina Speakers' Bureau. Few who have heard him speak have failed to be impressed not only by his expertise but also by his obvious love and gift for stimulating an appreciation for English literature in others. Not surprisingly he has won virtually every teaching award available to Chapel Hill faculty and was twice awarded a Bowman and Gordon Gray Chair for his excellence in teaching. It is small wonder then that Christopher Armitage is known locally as "The Chapel Hillian Mr. Chips."