September 5, 2006
Arts and humanities departments welcome 12 new faculty
Twelve new members of the regular faculty are beginning work in arts and humanities at Brown this fall:
John Cherry in Classics;
James Allen in Egyptology;
Deak Nabers in English;
Thangam Ravindranathan in French Studies;
Cristina Abbona Sneider in Italian Studies;
Marcy Brink-Danan in Judaic Studies;
Dris Soulaimani in Language Studies;
Renee Gladman in Literary Arts;
Dana Gooley in Music;
Charles Larmore in Philosophy;
Vladimir Golstein in Slavic Languages; and
Paul Myoda in Visual Art.
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After two years away from campus, Cristina Abbona Sneider returns to Brown as a lecturer in Italian Studies and coordinator of the Italian language program.
Abbona Sneider grew up in a small town in Piedmont, Italy, in the Langhe hills region, famous for its red wine. After receiving her B.A., summa cum laude, in modern Italian literature from the University of Turin in 1996, she came to Brown, where she earned her M.A. in Italian studies in 1999 and her Ph.D. in 2004. During her time at Brown, she was twice nominated for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Teaching. For the last two years, Abbona Sneider has been a lecturer in Italian at the University of Pennsylvania, where she also served as the director of the Italian language program and the undergraduate chair and advisor for Italian majors and minors.
Abbona Sneider’s doctoral research explored the “mania for English ideas and lifestyles which took possession of many Italian intellectuals in the late 18th century.”
“The rise of this anglomania is of notable interest because it had previously been French culture that dominated Italian tastes, clothing, styles and tongues,” she said. “To illuminate the roots of anglomania, I studied travel narratives, letter collections – both personal and diplomatic – and autobiographies which relate to the Italian experience of England.”
Though her dissertation focused on literature, she says teaching Italian language and culture is her “real passion.” For that reason, she says, she is “truly thrilled” to be back at Brown.”
“I have always considered it a priority to get to know my students personally – it allows for a more dynamic cultural exchange. I know that the unique teaching and learning environment of Brown is the perfect place for this kind of close contact with students.”
She is now interested in researching second language acquisition and the use of technology in language teaching, and looks forward to collaborating with the Center for Language Studies on that work. Abbona Sneider is also currently writing a textbook for third-year language and culture courses, entitled Italian Anthology for Advanced Readers.
– Deborah Baum
James Allen may possibly have one of the longest job titles here at Brown: Professor of Egyptology and Chair of the Department of Egyptology and Ancient Western Asian Studies.
“While at Brown, I will not only be teaching Egyptology but also trying to put together a new curriculum for Egyptology and aspects of the ancient Near East that haven’t been taught at Brown before,” he explains.
One of Allen’s goals is to organize a new, expanded department that covers all of the ancient Near East. “Up until now, it’s only been the Department of Egyptology – they taught and studied only ancient Egypt. That is now being expanded beyond ancient Egypt to the entire ancient Near East – everything from Egypt to what is now Iraq.”
Another aspect of Allen’s work is the study of the Amarna period, the period from approximately 1350 to 1310 B.C., when Egypt was ruled by a pharaoh who tried to promote the worship of a single God.
“It’s one of the most interesting periods of the Egyptian history but it’s also one of the most confusing because it’s the period of King Tut. It is difficult to figure out where he came from and who his parents were. There just isn’t much information – what we have is confusing and open to many different interpretations. We know the large picture of what happened but the smaller details and the rationale in particular are still big questions. It would be nice if I could get some of those questions answered.”
Allen has devoted his entire career to the study of Egyptology. His passion for the field started at an early age. “I was always interested in languages. When I was in high school, I went to a used book sale and picked up a book full of pages of hieroglyphs, and it was kind of a beginner’s introduction to ancient Egyptology.”
Allen has been with the Department of Egyptian Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art for the last 16 years, the last eight as curator. He also leads an annual expedition to Egypt to study newfound inscriptions. The next trip will be in October.
In the meantime, Allen’s primary focus is on Brown. “I would like to create the best Department of Egyptology in the country.”
– Amy Morton
Marcy Brink-Danan is fascinated by ephemera.
“I love things that disappear,” she said. “I’m interested in catching things as they are presented to the world and observed, but things that will eventually be thrown away and forgotten about.”
Everyday objects such as theater posters, political signs and advertising flyers are often dismissed as worthless; but as an anthropologist, Brink-Danan is interested in what ephemera can reveal about a community. Collecting these items is often central to her fieldwork.
Brink-Danan has spent a decade focusing on anthropological studies of Jews and Judaism. She received a B.A. in anthropology from Barnard College before attending Stanford University, where she earned her M.A. in 2002 and Ph.D. in 2005 from the Department of Cultural and Social Anthropology. Most recently, Brink-Danan was a faculty lecturer at Tufts University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
She is currently preparing a manuscript based on her doctoral dissertation, which investigates the historically changing definitions of Turkish-Jewish identity, assimilation and cultural citizenship.
Partly sponsored by a Fulbright Hays fellowship, Brink-Danan immersed herself within the Jewish community of Istanbul for more than two years to conduct her dissertation research.
“Given my subspecialty in linguistic anthropology, I was particularly interested in the relationship between language and culture,” explained Brink-Danan, who speaks five languages (including the vanishing Judeo-Spanish, a language spoken by Jews after the Spanish expulsion). “Turkey has one of the largest Jewish communities outside of Israel whose members still speak Judeo-Spanish.”
Her fieldwork included participant-observation, interviews, sound, text and image collection.
“In addition to recording in my notes the kinds of things people were saying, I’d notice the things they weren’t saying – or the way things were phrased differently in different types of company,” Brink-Danan recalled.
Having gained new insights, Brink-Danan hopes to conduct further research comparing her observations of Sephardic Jews in Turkey to those in other locales, such as Cuba and Israel. She is also increasingly curious about the “performative nature” of ideological expression and wants to explore “identity performances within the context of political rituals, ceremonies and everyday enactment of beliefs.”
Brink-Danan counts the American Anthropological Association and the American Ethnological Society among her list of professional memberships. Both groups awarded her Best Graduate Student Paper in 2005. That same year, she was honored with the Turkish Studies Association Award for Best Student Essay.
As for her students at Brown, Brink-Danan looks forward to showing them how to explore anthropology through a “Jewish lens” and is excited for the “creative energy” the field of anthropology can bring to Judaic Studies.
– Deborah Baum
When John Cherry moved to Providence from the University of Michigan, he transported 24,000 pounds of belongings. Accounting for most of that weight (other than a grand piano), Cherry says, were the countless papers and books he has acquired in his 30-year career as a scholar of Aegean prehistory.
In 1993, Cherry left the University of Cambridge to become professor of archaeology and Greek at the University of Michigan, where he also served for 11 years as director of the Interdepartmental Program in Classical Art and Archaeology – one of the country’s most innovative and prestigious graduate programs in the field. He now joins Brown’s Department of Classics and the Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World, of which his wife, Susan Alcock, is the inaugural director.
After supervising or participating in more than 20 archaeological surveys and excavations in the last 30 years, from Great Britain to Italy to many parts of Greece, Cherry is currently co-directing the Vorotan Project in southern Armenia, with Alcock and colleagues from the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography of the National Academy of Sciences in Yerevan. Summer 2006 was their second season in the field. The Project is employing a variety of methodologies – pedestrian survey, excavations at several sites, analysis of space imagery, radiocarbon dating, etc. – to investigate the long-term history of this little-explored part of the southern Caucasus. It is an area of particular interest to Classical archaeologists, since it lies at the very edge of the Persian and Roman empires, as well as in a part of the world turned upside-down by Alexander the Great (another of Cherry’s teaching and research interests).
Cherry’s work in Armenia, a former republic in the Soviet Union, is prompting him to contemplate study of what will be his seventh language – Russian – to give him better access to the people and scientific literature of the region.
“That’s the fun part of doing this,” Cherry said. “Having worked in the Mediterranean for so many years, to go to a new part of the world, where everything is different, is refreshing and energizing.”
Cherry speaks with excitement about joining the Joukowsky Institute at Brown – specifically, its interdisciplinary approach. He looks forward to forging “new and better links” with a range of departments, including History of Art and Architecture, Anthropology, Egyptology, Religious Studies, and even Engineering. Within days of his arrival on campus, Cherry visited the Environmental and Remote Technologies Lab to discuss using Geographic Information Systems and other digital technology in fieldwork.
“Part of why I find archaeology such a fascinating field is that you have to be a jack-of-all-trades,” Cherry said. “At one end of the field, you have art history and aesthetic studies and, at the other, you have the hardest of hard sciences, such as neutron activation and trace elemental analysis [methods used to source obsidian samples]. Our work reaches out to quite a number of other disciplines.”
Cherry has recently been asked to consult on a project in the Aegean involving high-tech maritime archaeology, in which unmanned submersibles and robotic devices are allowing scientists to discover, survey and excavate shipwrecks in very deep water. While the work takes place thousands of feet below the research vessel on the surface of the Mediterranean, it can be monitored in real time via satellite links to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute in Massachusetts. New work in underwater archaeology by colleagues from several other institutions in New England will be the topic of a small meeting Cherry and Alcock are organizing this fall. This, Cherry says, is an example of the Institute’s capabilities.
“It can act as an umbrella under which people in our field can get together and forge connections, not just within the Brown community, but nationally and internationally.”
– Deborah Baum
Chances are, Renee Gladman is reading these words differently than you are – she navigates sentences in the same way one might travel through a city.
“I see the sentence as this thing you are moving through,” she explained. “You encounter words and punctuation the same way you would see a building or turn onto a street.”
Born in Atlanta and a former resident of San Francisco and New York City, Gladman says the urban experience is always present in her writing. Her prose collection includes the chapbooks Arlem and Not Right Now, and the full-length books Juice and The Activist. Last year, she published a book of poetry A Picture-Feeling. Her sixth book, titled Newcomer Can’t Swim, will be published this spring. Brian Evenson, director of the Literary Arts Program, calls Gladman “one of the most interesting and most innovative cross-genre writers working today.”
Gladman received her B.A. in philosophy from Vassar College and her M.A. in poetics from New College of California. Prior to joining Brown’s Literary Arts Program, she taught at the Pratt Institute, the Naropa University Summer Writing Program, and University of California–San Diego. She says she’s had an affinity for Brown since coming here as a writer-in-residence in the fall of 2001.
Since 2004, Gladman has been the editor and publisher of Leon Works, a perfect-bound series of books for “experimental prose and thinking text.” Its second title was released this August. Previously, she founded the Leroy chapbook series, under which she edited and published 10 chapbooks of innovative poetry and prose by emerging writers.
Gladman speaks with passion about having her next books “appear in the world.” Her new work, including two novellas set in the fictional Eastern European locale Ravicka, is concerned with “a kind of globalist fiction that explores translation, structure and community as passages to a deeper understanding of experience.” In a forthcoming book, Prose City, Gladman explores what conditions create prose – and again, she connects this to a city landscape.
“When you think about a person writing sentences, I literally think of that person moving through the space of language. What kinds of things come up when you’re navigating a space? If students become more aware of that...it seems it would make writing more interesting.”
Gladman says reading and writing are equal passions for her – with publishing running a close second.
“They’re all very much connected. I could never do one without the other.”
– Deborah Baum
Vladimir Golstein has a strong assertion: Russian literature explores the human condition more accurately than some social sciences.
“Sociology and psychology can be too general. They don’t always deal with real life complexities the same way Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, and Pushkin do,” Golstein claims. “These authors touch on the most profound aspects of our being, like love and power and misery.”
When Golstein fled Russia at the age of 23, amid intense political oppression and anti-Semitism, he held a degree in computers and cybernetics from Moscow Institute of Management. But after settling in New York City in the late 1970s, he shifted his scholarly focus to the humanities. He earned his B.A. in philosophy from Columbia University, and his Ph.D. in Slavic languages and literatures from Yale University.
After teaching Russian literature at Oberlin College and Yale for more than a decade, Golstein began as a visiting professor at Brown in 2003. He now joins the Department of Slavic Languages as an associate professor. His wife, Svetlana Evdokimova, is a professor in the department.
In addition to literature, Golstein’s scholarly interests embrace Russian culture, religion, philosophy and poetry. He is the author of Lermontov’s Narratives of Heroism (1998) and numerous articles on 19th- and 20th-century Russian authors, including Pushkin, Gogol, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Tsvetaeva and Bulgakov. He is currently completing the book, Fathers and Children: The Conflict of Generations in Russian Literary and Cultural Tradition.
Golstein and Evdokimova just returned from Russia, where they led 14 students in Brown’s St. Petersburg Summer Program. The six-week immersion experience explores Russian language, politics and cultural history. Golstein also says it was valuable time to connect with old friends and study emerging media, popular entertainment and cultural changes.
That knowledge is especially useful for the interdisciplinary course “Russian Culture: From Peter The Great to Putin,” which Golstein co-teaches with history professor Abbott Gleason. Golstein says the course is an example of the new direction in which his field is shifting.
“When I started in this field, it was just about language and literature. But now, students want more bang for their buck. They want to learn about art, music, religion, social and political thought, and film. This course is a good way to embrace all of that.”
Still, Golstein says his most “joyful experience” is teaching about great authors and their works. He expressed that joy by quoting Russian-Jewish poet Boris Slutsky, who wrote, “My true mother land is not Russia, but the land of Russian novel.”
“Russian novels have created a wonderful world where everyone feels at home. Some sort of melting pot – United States of the spirit, if you wish,” Golstein explained. “The authors write and the characters are created in such a way, that one instantly speaks their language, shares their concerns, and feels like their sibling. That’s what Slutsky meant, and that’s what I feel, and that is what I hope students are able to experience.”
– Deborah Baum
Musically, Dana Gooley considers himself a descendent from the very person he’s spent much of his scholarly career studying – Franz Liszt.
“Most performing pianists today can trace their pedagogic lineage back to Liszt somehow,” he said.
In addition to being an accomplished jazz pianist who plays in clubs here and abroad, Gooley is a musicologist, specializing in music of the 19th century.
“I’ve always been interested in the cultural history of music, rather than the history of styles and compositions,” Gooley said. He’s spent the last decade focusing his research on Liszt and the pianist’s “greatest virtuoso career in history.”
“Liszt invented the modern concert solo recital. He had an incredible personality and virtuosity on the instrument. Audiences went wild over him!” Gooley said. “He was the first instrumentalist to make audiences really listen intently. Being a pianist myself, I’m fascinated by him.”
A graduate of Wesleyan University, Gooley holds an M.F.A. and Ph.D. from Princeton University. He has taught courses in classical music and jazz history at Harvard University, Amherst College and Case Western Reserve University. Gooley has presented numerous papers on virtuosity and on issues of gender and music, and his publications have appeared in the journal 19th Century Music, Musical Quarterly, and the Journal of the American Liszt Society. He published the monograph, The Virtuoso Liszt, in 2004 and co-edited a second book, Liszt and his World, which was released this summer in connection with the 17th annual Bard Music Festival, for which he also served as scholar-in-residence.
While conducting research for his dissertation in Berlin and Paris, Gooley spent much of his time in libraries and archives, reading thousands of concert reviews to gain an understanding of Lizst and other musicians through a historical lens. The experience prompted a fascination with 19th century professional music criticism, which Gooley says will likely be the topic of his next book project.
He’s looking forward to teaching a course on jazz history this fall, which is another emerging area of research for Gooley. He’s particularly interested in the jazz industry of the mid-to-late 20th century. He speaks with excitement about two new courses he has in the works – one on opera and the other a seminar on improvisation.
“This class will bring my talents together – academically and musically,” he said. “Improvisation crosses so many different domains. In theater, in comedy and in business – there’s a need for people to learn to improvise roles that extends far beyond music alone.”
Gooley is also eager to find the jazz scene in Providence – and to start playing. “Where there are young people, there is a jazz audience. It’s just a matter of making it happen.”
– Deborah Baum
Perhaps fortunately for his students, Charles Larmore, the MacMillan Family Professor in the Humanities, doesn’t like to teach courses covering the same topics on which he’s currently writing.
“When I am in the midst of working out my own position on some subject, I am not likely, I have found, to be as flexible and open to differing views as I want to be in my teaching,” he said. “I get too caught up in my own agenda. So I prefer to teach courses on topics in which I am still finding my way, or on topics that I have written about in the past.”
Larmore’s interests range over a number of areas in political and moral philosophy, particularly the foundations of liberal political philosophy, the idea of natural law, the nature of the self and moral reasoning.
“I’m interested in trying to understand the nature of moral value, our relationship to it, how we deliberate, and how that can be a process of discovery and deeper insight,” Larmore said. “My proclivities have always been toward what philosophers call ‘realist views’ – realist in the sense that I think that there are such things as moral good and evil and that their nature is something we discover, not something we create or legislate for ourselves.”
Larmore graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Harvard College in 1972 and received his Ph.D. in philosophy from Yale University in 1978, having also studied at the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris and at the Universität Münster in Germany. He taught at Columbia University for nearly 20 years and comes to Brown after nine years at the University of Chicago – five of those years as the Chester D. Tripp Professor in the Humanities.
The author of six books and more than 100 articles and reviews, Larmore has published extensively on philosophical topics and calls himself a “fanatical perfectionist” about writing. He currently serves on the editorial boards of 10 publications, including the European Journal of Political Theory and Ethics, for which he is also the book review editor and associate editor. His own books, written in English and French are Patterns of Moral Complexity; Modernité et morale; The Morals of Modernity; The Romantic Legacy; Débat sur l’éthique; Idéalisme ou réalisme; and Les pratiques du moi, for which the Académie française awarded him the “Grand Prix de Philosophie” in 2004. He calls the prize his “15 minutes of glory,” and partly attributes it to his French mother-in-law, who he says is his editor for most of his French publications.
Next, Larmore would like to explore the nature of freedom.
“There is a reigning conception of freedom not only among philosophers, but in our culture itself. I think it’s too activist a notion, there has to be a passive moment in our freedom.”
Larmore says he likes the esprit of Brown and is eager to sit in on courses in other departments, such as the neighboring classics. David Estlund, chairman of the Department of Philosophy, looks forward to what this esteemed new colleague brings to Brown.
“Charles works in a way that crosses over some common boundaries: boundaries between, say, moral philosophy and metaphysics, between Anglo-American philosophy and European or ‘continental’ philosophy,’ between original philosophy and history of philosophy, and so on,” Estlund said. “He’s also very distinguished and prominent, with many years left ahead of him, so we’re not only a stronger and more intellectually diverse department, but also a more attractive destination for the best graduate students.”
– Deborah Baum
To say that Paul Myoda has projects on the horizon would be a literal statement.
The sculptor and newly appointed assistant professor of visual art is currently pondering how to launch a glowing five-point star into a metropolitan skyline. The Urban Lodestar Project, which won second prize in a 2004 Popular Science design competition, involves high-altitude aerostats, propellant tanks, electroluminescent piping, and of course, a GPS-equipped positioning system. The project aims to help city-dwellers “reconnect with the celestial vault and a sense of the beyond.”
“Now that some of the technologies are feasible,” Myoda jokes, “maybe it would be a contender for first prize somewhere and actually become realized.”
Myoda, a graduate of Rhode Island School of Design, earned his M.F.A. from Yale University in 1994. He lists more than 30 solo and group exhibitions, nationally and internationally, of sculptures, drawings, photographs and short films. He has also written for various art and cultural publications, including Art in America, Flash Art, and Frieze.
Prior to coming to Brown, he lived in New York City, exhibiting artwork, co-founding an art production company (Big Room) and an architecture-ideas collaboration (Manifold) and serving as an adjunct professor at The City College of New York. Myoda’s artwork has been the subject of dozens of articles, appearing everywhere from slate.com to The New Yorker, Newsweek, and The New York Times.
Already well known in the art realm, Myoda gained unprecedented attention for his creation of the “Tribute in Light” memorial for the World Trade Center. Myoda and his colleague Julian LaVerdiere’s rendering of twin beams of light projecting into the sky from Ground Zero appeared on the cover of The New York Times Magazine less than two weeks after 9-11. After collaborating with a team of architects, the concept was realized for the six-month anniversary of the terror attack and has been reinstalled every year since on September 11 to mark the anniversary.
More recently, Myoda has become fascinated with “ornamentation” and its re-emergence, following a repression in the 20th century. Through his discreet sculptures and architectural and public proposals, he is investigating what this trend will be like in the 21st century.
“I’m trying to act as a midwife to help give birth to new forms of ornamentation – if that is even the right word. Unlike historical ornament where the pictorial was prevalent – think of acanthus leaves, grape bunches, or dancing cherubs – I see extreme forces, velocities, granularities, and scale differences informing a new, abstract and stylistic worldview. Whether these will be stillborn or take on lives of their own is what makes being an artist both a rewarding and humbling pursuit.”
– Deborah Baum
One of Deak Nabers’s favorite courses to teach is on detective fiction.
“I’m obsessed with crime novels,” he said. “I like thinking about crime, and novels are a great way to go about it. They may read easy, but these books are often smarter than you think.”
From “high brow stuff” to the “pulpiest of novels,” Nabers enjoys analyzing how justice and crime are represented. His penchant for legal analysis may run in his family – his father is Drayton Nabers Jr., chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court. The elder Nabers was appointed to the high court following the 2003 ousting of Justice Ray Moore over his refusal to remove the Ten Commandments monument at the State Judicial Building.
Nabers received his B.A. from Princeton University and his Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University in 1999. A Rhodes Scholar, he also received a D.Phil. from Oxford University in 1996. His scholarly work crosses the disciplines of history, law and literature, specifically focusing on the relationship between American literature and law before and after the Civil War. Nabers’s articles, exploring the topics of slavery and liberty, have appeared in the journal Representations and the Yale Journal of Criticism. He comes to Brown from Vanderbilt University where he has been an assistant professor of English for six years.
This summer, The Johns Hopkins University Press published Nabers’s first book, Victory of Law: The Civil War, the Fourteenth Amendment, and American Literature, 1850-1890, which examines developing ideas about the nature of law as reflected in literary and political writing before, during and after the American Civil War. One reviewer called it “one of the most conceptually acute and intellectually forceful books in the field of law and literature I have seen in many years.”
Nabers is now interested in exploring the rise of American realism and its relationship to the rise of the economically conservative constitutional jurisprudence associated with the Supreme Court at the turn of the 20th century.
“I want to understand why American authors at the end of the 19th century came to write the way they did and be interested in the things they were, in terms of a set of tendencies in constitutional thinking that was emerging at the same time,” Nabers explained. “What I want to claim is that even though those two things don’t appear to have anything in common on the surface, they are actually motivated by the same kinds of problems.”
Nabers has a second book project underway about how and why the concept of history became important in the way people conceived of civil rights problems in the 1960s.
Kevin McLaughlin, chair of the Department of English, calls Nabers’s scholarly interests, energy and productivity “exceptional” and says he “possesses impressive intellectual range, ambition and daring.”
“Nabers’s forthcoming book shows that he is equally comfortable working in fiction and poetry, and his interests in 19th-century American poetry will add an important dimension to our teaching and scholarship in this area,” McLaughlin says. “His ability, moreover, to make trans-Atlantic connections in legal theory and history suggest that his critical scholarly interests and approach complement the research and teaching of many faculty members working in the English Department.”
– Deborah Baum
Thangam Ravindranathan traces her scholarly interests back to childhood.
“My family moved every two to three years, which meant I grew up in installments, associating different phases of my childhood and adolescence with different decors,” she said. “No doubt this peculiar relationship with spaces informed my eventual interest in travel narratives, and particularly ones that seemed to express a certain difficulty in describing places, in inhabiting them.”
Ravindranathan (whose first name means gold in Tamil) has focused her research on travel writings in 20th- and 21st-century French and Francophone literature. She’s interested in “how travel and other spaces can continue to be written about in the modern age; and how through some idiosyncratic, strained or irreverent forms of travel writings, modern anxieties about writing are expressed and sometimes resolved.”
She received a Maîtrise in comparative literature from Université de Paris–VIII (Vincennes – Saint-Denis) in 1999, a Diplôme d’Etudes Approfondies in French literature from Université de Genève in 2004, and her Ph.D. in comparative literature and French in May 2006, as a joint degree from the University of Pennsylvania and the Université de Paris–VIII (Vincennes – Saint-Denis). Her dissertation, (Dé)Figurations de L’Ailleurs, examines travel writings of French 20th-century authors and investigates their disenchantments with exotic dreams of earlier travelers and writers.
With publications ranging from essays to fiction, Ravindranathan has written a critical piece on a Bollywood film feature for L’Express, an essay examining the “curious overlap between the poetics of Francis Ponge and Georges Perec” in Symposium: Quarterly Journal in Modern Foreign Literatures, and a short story that appeared in Muse India, an online literary magazine. She has presented her work at several conferences and colloquiums, including the American Comparative Literature Association Conference at Pennsylvania State University, the 20th/21st Centuries French Studies International Colloquium at the University of Florida, and the Association for Commonwealth Literature and Languages in Hyderabad, India.
Michel-André Bossy, professor of French studies, says he’s been working for six years to bring Ravidranathan to Brown and is confident she will make outstanding contributions to the department and the humanities.
“Her dissertation is a highly discerning, well-grounded study of postmodern literary perspectives on travel,” he said. “She examines with great finesse how contemporary writers of exceptional talent delve into the unfulfilled hopes and dashed expectations that beset today’s travel culture. Ravindranathan now plans to extend her inquiry into intersections between poetry and travel.”
Among courses Ravidranathan will be teaching this year is a class on 20th-century travel writings and films and a survey of French literature since the 18th century. When she’s not teaching or researching, she enjoys learning to play the tabla (an Indian percussion instrument), swimming, spending long hours in cafés, and, she says, simply staring into space.
– Deborah Baum
Born and raised in Casablanca, Dris Soulaimani grew up speaking both Berber and Arabic.
“The need to communicate in these languages enabled me to acquire more linguistic knowledge and enhanced my desire to learn more about other languages,” he said. “My passion for learning about languages developed after I was first introduced to English in secondary school, and then developed further as I enjoyed my university studies of linguistics.”
In 1997, Soulaimani received his B.A. in English language and literature from the University of Hassan II in Casablanca, Morocco, where he chose linguistics as a field of specialization in his final year. Before heading to the United States for graduate school, he worked as a private school teacher at Institute Almouhssinine in Morocco. He received his master’s degree in linguistics from Wayne State University in Michigan in 2004, where he also taught Arabic for two years.
Soulaimani also taught at the University of Illinois–Urbana-Champaign, Alakhawyn University in Morocco, and most recently as a visiting instructor in Arabic and international studies at Middlebury College.
He began his Ph.D. in linguistics at the University of Illinois last winter, focusing on comparative morphology of Arabic and Tashelhit (Berber) languages. He is now taking time off from his studies to come to Brown as a lecturer in Arabic language and culture.
“Dris Soulaimani’s colleagues and students have nothing but the highest praise for his teaching skills and his language and cultural expertise,” said Beth Bauer, director of the Center for Language Studies. “His work at Brown and in the Center for Language Studies will provide dynamic new support for our rapidly growing Arabic program.
Soulaimani says he too, is looking forward to working with students and faculty at Brown.
“I am extremely impressed by Brown’s reputation and with the contact I have had with the faculty there. I also know that the quality of the students is exceptional.”
– Deborah Baum