{ Hello }

When I began teaching at Oberlin, in 1999, I had only lived in the United States for four years. I'd never really been to the Midwest. My graduate school was in California, and I was born and raised in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Until I applied for the job here I'd actually never heard of the place, nor did I have any clear notion of what a liberal arts college was. In short, I had no idea what I was getting into. But joining the Oberlin faculty is one of the best decisions I've made in my life. Why? Well, I kind of explain that here, and here — oh, and here, too.

I almost always teach in Spanish. Although I was trained as a literary scholar, in my classes we read fiction, poetry, theater, and essays from Spain and Latin America alongside history, film, and politics to get to larger questions: What is the connection between literary form and social change? How do ideologies manifest themselves in particular kinds of texts or behaviors? What function can literature and film fulfill in situations of social and political crisis, such as war, dictatorship and exile? These are also the questions that I try to answer in my own scholarship. Every class is a collective adventure.

I strongly feel that Oberlin is more than just a college. It's a thriving intellectual community. My students and my colleagues leave me in constant awe. The couple of opportunities I've have had to team-teach a class - be it in a two-week minicourse on transitions to democracy, or a semester-long course on twentieth-century Spain and Yugoslavia - were amazingly enriching. But even when it's just me teaching, I encourage students to make connections with other classes and interests, and in the end they teach me as much as I teach them.

Making connections is in the end what it is all about. It is also what drives the work of the Oberlin Center for Languages and Cultures and its ObieMAPS project. Give it a whirl!

{ Entries }


Learning and Labor: The Oberlin Factory

At Oberlin we make stuff, things that last. This place is a factory of ideas, knowledge, art, and music. As it turns out, our annual output is actually quite impressive--and we are committed to sharing it freely with the world.

Hanging with the Judge

I've just had one of the most thrilling weekends of my life. And no, it's not because Ajax, my Amsterdam soccer team, won the Dutch league on Sunday (although that was pretty cool). I got to hand a $100,000 Human Rights Award to the Spanish Judge Baltasar Garzón.

Empty-Nest Anxiety

The end of the academic year always brings a sense of loss, a kind of annual attack of empty-nest anxiety. We think about the graduating seniors and heave a sigh. "What are we going to do?" we ask each other. "We'll never get a bunch of kids as good as these ones..."

Tell me what you study and I'll tell you who you are

I've never liked the term "discipline" as a way to refer to what I teach and write about. It's harsh, forbidding, army-like. I much prefer to tell people that I work in a particular field--maybe because as a kid I wanted to be a farmer.

Requirement Blues

What exactly should every Oberlin graduate know and be able to do by the time they walk up to the commencement stage? How do we know that she knows? And how do we make sure that her coursework allows her to actually learn it?

The blessings of Winter Term

Winter Term still has the delightful feel of space and possibility that I am sure it was designed to have by the brilliant, counter-cultural minds that came up with it some time in the 1970s.

Open Access!

Much of the cutting-edge knowledge about the world is out of reach for most of the people who inhabit that world. But access to knowledge is a good in and of itself.

Double or Triple Major Madness

Why do so many Oberlin students double or triple major? I really want to know.

Winter Term Abroad

I've always thought that leaving the country is one of the best ways to spend January.

Intellectual Community

My colleagues and I looked at each other in astonishment. No, we mumbled almost apologetically, we're sorry, but that is not a problem we tend to have.

Ode to Team-Teaching

January is supposed to be a quiet month, but as usual I've got too many things going at the same time.

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