Faculty Spotlights_Elitza Kotzeva

Elitza Kotzeva Connects English Literature and Community Service

2 min read

Faculty at AUA are critical to the institution’s and our students’ success. They serve as instructors and mentors, connect students with a network and jobs, and actively promote AUA’s values which makes the institution a force of good in Armenia. 

Dr. Elitza Kotzeva, a professor of English and Literature at AUA, is one of many faculty members whose diverse background and accomplishments enrich the academic experience at AUA. Born in Bulgaria, Dr. Kotzeva holds a PhD in English from Washington State University (U.S.), in addition to an MA in English from Appalachian State University (U.S.), MA in Local Development from the University of Trento and University of Bolzano (Italy), and MA in Slavic Studies from Sofia University (Bulgaria).

Last year, during Dr. Kotzeva’s first semester at AUA, she taught in AUA’s Graduate Certificate in Translation (C Tr.) program and gained a deep appreciation for the students in Armenia. “Most of them were local professionals — writers, translators, scholars, designers — and provided me with an opportunity to see how AUA connects with the community of intellectuals in Armenia,” Dr. Kotzeva recalls about the experience. “Some of our last-year C Tr. graduates include the current Deputy Minister of Labor and Social Affairs, Anna Zhamakochyan (C. Tr. ‘20), and the president of PEN Armenia, Armen Ohanyan (C. Tr. ‘20).”

Elitza Kotzeva's classDr. Kotzeva’s holistic approach to teaching literature elevates the students’ learning experience by infusing literature classes with performance activities and writing assignments designed to advance students’ rhetorical skills. She connects the study of a certain period in literature — the social, political, and cultural life that transpires through the works — to our present moment and geopolitical situation. In the fall, the war made this task rather difficult. 

“In my English Literature class, we read a lot of war poetry and discussed death in literature in ways that no other group of students could possibly do — the philosophical depth that these young people reached was astounding,” Dr. Kotzeva remarks. “My classes in the fall became a refuge to all of us, a safe place where we had the chance to not think about what was going on out there, even if just for a few hours. In a matter of two months, we all grew older — both wiser with the reading and aged with the burden of the war and its consequences.”

Dr. Kotzeva is particularly passionate about AUA’s endeavor to educate Armenians into fostering a strong local community. Her background in local development and community service has deepened this approach. She integrates community work into her classes and loves directing senior students’ theses related to local issues and finding ways that students can translate their academic skillset into a professional opportunity that will help advance the development of Armenia. 

“I am proud to be part of a university that not only sees the links between academia and community but engages enthusiastically in it and makes it a priority in the institution’s mission,” Dr. Kotzeva says. “I love teaching at AUA and serving both the university and the local community. I hope that together we can continue to foster the advancement and development of Armenians, local society, and the larger region.”

Founded in 1991, the American University of Armenia (AUA) is a private, independent university located in Yerevan, Armenia, affiliated with the University of California, and accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission in the United States. AUA provides local and international students with Western-style education through top-quality undergraduate, graduate, and certificate programs, promotes research and innovation, encourages civic engagement and community service, and fosters democratic values.