It was my own first-year liberal arts seminar that showed me what a revelatory act interpretation could be. As our class pored over a Sappho fragment and attempted to decode its ancient voice, single words—“lyre,” “flame,” “bittersweet”—stood in relief, revealing entire galaxies of meaning. Today, I study medieval literature across a range of cultures and languages. I’m currently investigating how the elite poetry of late medieval China assimilated the voices of non-elite subjects, like courtesans and servants, to portray reality in unprecedented ways.
I’ve never considered teaching as a practice removed from research, but rather a parallel genre of knowledge production. This knowledge takes a less tangible form than the kind presented in articles and books, lodging itself instead in the lost hours of immersed reading, long conversations, and fleeting epiphanies of the classroom. Through the Engagements’ focus on broad fundamental questions, I hope to cultivate the same revelations I experienced as a freshman. My courses will consider a range of aesthetic experiences—sacred and profane, Western and non-Western, past and present. We will interrogate how works of art can open us to their emotional influence, provoke ethical possibilities, and present alternate visions of ourselves and our world.