In both my teaching and research I’m interested in cultural contact zones and borders. These spaces might be literal, such as the Mediterranean or they might be figurative, such as the line between self and other. I’m fascinated by exchange inherent in these geographies, the strategies and mechanisms through which different cultures encounter, accommodate, and (sometimes) conflict with each other. Within such negotiations, my teaching and research pursues lines of inquiry directed at uncovering culturally fraught representations of difference, which include gender, race, and religion.
The study literature helps students acquire the skills to navigate texts at the surface and interior level. Students need to understand not only the generic conventions of the works they’re reading, but also how historical, cultural, and social forces help shape these texts. Literature, in my view, is never divorced from the conditions in which it was produced. Similarly, our readings are not detached from our own subjectivities. Therefore, I try to show my students how our interpretations are informed by a myriad of factors that include, a close reading of the text, its historical context, and our own subjectivities and cultural investments. Close attention to the method and motivation of analysis can help students arrive at sound interpretations; moreover, this helps students cultivate a personal stake in their critical investigations. When students care about their work, they will do better.
At Harvey Mudd College I offer courses in Shakespeare and early modern English literature, freshman writing seminars, and genre electives. These courses are designed to give an overview of the work of a particular author or period, develop critical thinking and interpretive skills, and to interrogate the social, political, and cultural dimensions of literature. While I primarily teach non-majors at Mudd, I find that our students bring an eager and inquisitive approach to my courses, which makes my work both challenging and rewarding.