Welcome to our two new Visiting Assistant Professor Faculty Fellows, Guadalupe Escobar and Moacir P. de Sá Pereira…
Professor Guadalupe Escobar comes to us from Southern California, where she received her Ph.D. from the University of California, Los Angeles. Her research focuses on Latina/o and Latin American studies, and the two book chapters she hopes to finish during her year here at NYU’s English department reflect this. The first will revisit Rigoberta Menchú’s testimonio (political auto/biography) in its various forms within the context of recent political events in Guatemala, like the resignation of corrupt government officials, including the former President Pérez-Molina. The other chapter will trace queer testimonio in the context of Cuban diaspora in the film Before Night Falls and in Juana María Rodríguez’s “Confessions of a Latina Cyber-Slut.” Dr. Escobar will be teaching two courses here next semester. Her Texts and Ideas course, On Liberation, will focus on contemporary human rights issues, and her course Testimonial Narratives in the Americas will allow her students to creatively engage in a social justice topic of their choosing.
Favorite book or author: “God.”
Her advice to students in her area of study: “Master writing—even if it’s a life-long process. You’ll reap many rewards from the art of persuasion. Also, dream big. Then determine deadlines for the dream(s) with realistic goals.”
Professor Moacir P. de Sá Pereira has arrived from the Vilnius Gediminas Technical University in Lithuania and will be at NYU’s English department for two years. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago just last year, and he will be teaching an undergraduate course and co-teaching another undergraduate course titled Writing New York. The former course, on digital literary studies, will incorporate digital mapping and will focus on American cities and novels. The latter focuses on the cultural development of New York City as seen in literature, poetry, theater, and film. While here at NYU, Dr. de Sá Pereira will be working on a book, currently titled “Making Maps,” which aims to use geographical information to better understand novels. He hopes to take advantage of all the resources available to him here at the university—through lectures, the NewYorkScapes working group, and other opportunities—and in the city to help him with this project.
Favorite book or author: “Since moving back to the US after six years in Europe, I’ve been catching up on contemporary novels I couldn’t get out there, and my favorite of those, so far, is Nell Zink’s “The Wallcreeper,” which is short, funny, and a little weird—all good features for a novel to have. And luckily for me, I think I’ll be incorporating that novel into my work soon.”
His advice to students in his area of study: “For undergraduates, I’d encourage them to take the time to sketch out the structure of a final paper before writing it. That made a big difference in my understanding the material and made for immeasurably stronger essays. For graduate students, I imagine I’d encourage them to be certain that their project is something that they really care about, because for the entire lifetime of the project, no one will care more about it than they. That’s more important than to pick a trendy topic or something like that.”
… and our other distinguished visitors this semester!
Professor Maebh Long is here for the semester from the main campus of the University of the South Pacific, located in Suva, Fiji. She studied at the National University of Ireland, Cork and received her Ph.D. from Durham University, UK. While here at NYU’s English department, Dr. Long will be researching Flann O’Brien and conversations on immunity and autoimmune diseases, and she will host an international conference on Oceanic Modernism in February 2016. She is currently teaching two courses in the department: a section of Major Texts in Critical Theory, and Deconstruction and the Contemporary, which focuses on Derrida’s early texts and engages them with contemporary issues.
Favorite book or author: “If I have to choose one, I’ll name Flann O’Brien’s The Third Policeman, a darkly comic novel of murder, philosophy and bicycles, written in Ireland in 1940 but not published until 1967, as the publishers O’Brien approached found the text rather too strange. It deserves an even greater audience than it now has.”
Her advice to students in her area of study: “I would advise students to try to develop the skill of slow reading. English majors tend to be passionate readers, which often means absorbing books quickly and enthusiastically. But reading slowly and carefully, with thought and attention to detail, is an important skill, particularly for those interested in theory. I would like us to remember that while a love for our material can often lead to a certain frenetic energy, that energy should be channeled into precision and focus, rather than overviews which push us quickly on to the next question, text, or project.”
Global Distinguished Professor Isabel Hofmeyr will be at NYU’s English department until the end of the semester, and will be returning to teach every other year until 2021. She is visiting from the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. This semester she’s teaching an undergraduate senior seminar on post-apartheid literature and culture and a graduate course that focuses on narratives of the Indian Ocean World. Dr. Hofmeyr is on her second visit to NYU’s English department, and she feels the community we have here is vibrant and full of talent. While she’s here, she hopes to use her knowledge of the postcolonial Indian Ocean and postcolonial Africa to help further the department’s offerings in such courses. She also hopes to further her own research in those areas by using the resources we have available here at NYU and in the city.
Favorite book or author: “Currently it’s the British-Zanzibari writer Abdulrazak Gurnah whose novels capture the deep, layered complexities of the Indian Ocean arena.”
Her advice for students in her area of study: “With the rise of India and China, the Indian Ocean arena is the coming strategic arena of the twenty-first century. Yet, especially in the realm of literature, we know relatively little about this zone. The field is wide open for bold and imaginative thinkers who are prepared to take risks.”
Professor Jenny C. Mann has come to NYU’s English department for the 2015-16 academic year from Cornell University and received her Ph.D. from Northwestern University. She is currently teaching two courses here: Utopia: Thomas More to Science Fiction and Shakespeare and Science. In the spring, she will teach Shakespeare and Film and a graduate course titled Renaissance Non-Humanism. Each of these courses raises questions about the relationship between literature and science and between early modern texts and later genres and forms of media. While here at NYU, Dr. Mann hopes to complete some of her research projects—one of which involves Renaissance theories of eloquence and magnetism—to catch as many plays as possible in the city, and to teach enjoyable classes. The latter shouldn’t be an issue, since she finds the students here to be bright, creative, and engaged.
Favorite book or author: “If I had to commit to a favorite right this moment, I’d say Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness. If you’re asking me what book I’d take to a desert island, the answer is Michel de Montaigne’s Essais.”
Her advice for students in her area of study: “Don’t be put off by texts that don’t initially make sense or seem in any way ‘relatable.’ Read slowly, ask lots of questions, and stay open to the possibility that you might be transformed by the strangeness of the past.”
Professor Helge Jordheim is visiting us until June 2016 from the University of Oslo, Norway, the same university where he received his Ph.D. While here at NYU’s English department, Dr. Jordheim hopes to work on a Re: Enlightenment Project with our Professor Clifford Siskin and others. This project aims to reinterpret Enlightenment ideals and understand how society has inherited and changed those ideals. Professor Jordheim is also working on a book currently titled “Synchronizing the World: The Making of Modern Progress.” This semester, Dr. Jordheim is co-teaching a graduate course with Professor Siskin called Conceptualizing the World, which focuses on the globe and its many representations from the eighteenth century onward. In the spring, he will teach an undergraduate course called The Cultural History of Time.
Favorite book or author: “At the moment: H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald.”
His advice for students in her area of study: “Dare to be original and cross disciplinary borders.”
Professor Murray Pittock has been with us this semester, visiting from the University of Glasgow. He is particularly interested in a number of transdisciplinary studies such as 18th-and 19th-Century Studies, Irish Studies, Scottish Studies, Cultural History, and Material Culture. These fields of interest have overlapped with the talks that he has hosted for the English department in the past few months. He held an 18th-Century British Literature Workshop in September and a talk on Edinburgh’s Enlightenment in October. He also had the chance to speak to members of the department’s community about the way that urban space and the modern university affect each other. While here at NYU, he has been working on the Re: Enlightenment Project alongside Professor Jordheim and other professors both within and beyond NYU’s English department.