I teach world literature because I love the world. I'm serious - there is nothing I love more than to meet people, speak their language, eat their food, read their literature, and watch their films. I try to understand what they love and how they think about things. I learn a lot that way. Students often come to my classes thinking they are going to learn about something exotic and strange, but although there are differences between cultures, the more I travel the more I realize how much people are the same. I've spent over 6 years living and teaching abroad, including in Russia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkey and most recently, China. I have a Masters degree in Russian and a PhD in Languages and Cultures of Asia (University of Wisconsin-Madison), where I specialized in the Caucasus and Central Asia with a minor in Ethnomusicology--AND got to spend two years in Azerbaijan working with epic singers! I wrote my dissertation and a book about Azeri woman bards, and I write on a lot of different things including Russian, Azeri, Kazakh, Turkish and Urdu literature, music and film. I’m trying to get more Central Asian literature translated into English, and right now I'm collaborating on a collection of Uzbek short stories and Kazakh folk tales. I write both scholarly and non-scholarly stuff, you can see some of my writing at: http://www.nowruzinternational.org/regions/central-asia/kazakhstan/kazakhs/essays/1
I still work with living bardic singers in the Caucasus/ Central Asia and on cultural exchange projects like the Smithsonian Folkways Music of Central Asia series and the Madison World Music Festival. I'm hoping to bring some musicians from the Caucasus and Central Asia to Coastal sometime soon! If you take my class you can expect to read literature from all over the place (Russia, Asia, Middle East, Latin America, Europe), to see some interesting films, and to read, write and talk (a lot) about the world.