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Teaching Philosophy

The poet Yoko Tawada uses the staple remover as a metaphor for the process of learning a foreign language. Whereas words and ideas are fastened tightly together in the mother tongue, in the foreign language a space is opened for creative and intellectual play. The thrills and insights that can arise through engagement with language within this playful space are something I try to impart to my students in both the study of language and of literature. Learning a new language, like interacting with a literary or artistic work for the first time, involves new modes of perception, new ways of understanding, and new conceptions of being. Today the real-world situations in which students will find themselves after finishing their education and leaving the classroom increasingly demand multilingual, multicultural, and multimodal competences. Whether they are traveling abroad, attending lectures at graduate school, or working in a company, students will be asked to communicate in new situations, which will require them to infer cultural expectations about how they are to act and think from the actions of others. In my my teaching and mentoring, I hope to help students to find their own staple removers, so that they can discover new ways of thinking, understanding and expressing themselves.

Current Courses

I have recently taught "German Women's Fictions", a general education course, which examines a number of German-language cultural works (primarily novels, short stories, and films) from the 20th and 21st century and we will consider why personal narrative has been one of the predominant forms of women’s writing for over a century, what does that tell us about the relation between private life and politics, and what glamors and values different kinds of stories seem to hold for us.

In the fall, I will be teaching "Literacy through Literature" - a course which explore the role that literary language and aesthetic and playful modes of reading and writing can play in the development of literacy in a second  and additional languages.

Teaching Awards

  • Campus-Wide Teaching Effectiveness Award (2003, University of California, Berkeley)
  • Outstanding Graduate Student Instructor Award (2003, University of California, Berkeley)