Drawing by AUP student

Roy Rosenstein here.

As a comparatist, I find it appropriate that, like so many of my students and colleagues at AUP, I too pack several passports. My nationalities are American (by my birth in New York City), British (my father was born within the sound of Bow’s Bells in London), and Lithuanian (reflecting my mother’s birthplace and her second of five nationalities). In keeping with AUP’s Janus-like orientation, I have spent most of my adult life shuttling between the U.S., where my family’s home base is now in upstate New York, and France, where I decided long ago as a student to make my career at AUP.

I took my undergraduate and graduate degrees alternately in those two countries: Licence in linguistics (Paris V, Mention très bien), B.A. in French (Columbia, magna cum laude), M.A. in Romance languages (Harvard, with Honors), Maîtrise in French (Paris IV, Mention bien), PhD in Comparative Literature (Columbia, with Distinction), with certificates from universities in Spain and Italy plus an additional graduate year at NYU along the way.

Earlier in my career at AUP, I took leaves to teach on the East and West coasts (Columbia and CUNY in New York City, Rochester on a Mellon grant, Oregon as a visiting professor) and elsewhere (Greece on a summer appointment, Brazil on a Fulbright, and the Sorbonne replacing a senior colleague).  For years I worked also as escort interpreter for the State Department, until my Paris responsibilities precluded any other commitment than teaching, research, and service at AUP.  While I have so far declined the latest opportunities to teach  again at the Sorbonne, in the U.S., and in Latin America, I continue to travel widely on shorter academic engagements. To date I have spoken on campuses from Turin to Toronto, making some fifty presentations in dozens of countries from Australia to Zimbabwe.

My scholarly interests as a comparatist are equally far-flung. My dissertation was on classical Latin, medieval Latin, and medieval Romance lyric. A first book was on Occitan troubadours, another on Baroque French poetry. Medieval and Renaissance were my two fields of specialization for the doctorate. But my journal articles and book chapters attest a wider span of interests, developed also in the classroom teaching all periods from classics to contemporary. As co-founder of the Comp Lit program and department, I was called upon to teach many chronological moments and geographical corners on the CL map. My other publications include essays on the classical tradition, more medieval and Renaissance topics, but also modern literatures, including English and American. I have written about gays, Jews, and Muslims in medieval literature; Arabic ties to Western texts; Russian and German models for Japanese fiction; foreign wars in American literature; medieval to modern women’s writing from the U.S., France, Brazil, and elsewhere. Even I can’t predict what will catch my interest next as a comparatist.

As our department evolves, we have added new tracks and lately new degree programs bringing on additional faculty and courses. Two new classes I might like to introduce eventually in cooperation with other degree programs are “Medieval Women on Top” and “Convivencia : Christian-Jewish-Muslim Cohabitation in Spain”. I have already published a bit in both areas but look forward to learning much more in the classroom with the next generation of eager and dedicated students. We in Comp Lit always welcome a chance to hear from current, past, and future students about their interests in our course offerings. Prospective students and alumni and current degree candidates:  this is another opportunity to tell us what sub-disciplines you hope to see in the CL curriculum, whether maintained there or added to it. Comp lit has always been a program in evolution since our first majors declared thirty years ago. Here’s hoping we’ll hear from you.

Best to all.