What would you have liked to tell the 20-year-old version of yourself about college?
Get enough sleep.
Did you go straight to graduate school after college? If not, what was the most interesting thing you did in the interim?
No. I took 18 months to earn some money and to think about my future plans.I taught math to students from Soweto
What made you decide to specialize in your current subfield in English?
I come from a multi-lingual country and decided early on to learn as many languages as possible so as to read literary texts in the original language, such as plays by Bertolt Brecht in German or poetry that mixes English, Xhosa, and flaaitaal from South Africa.
What is the most intriguing or quirky idea that you have learned from your recent research?
I’ve recently completed a book on Johannesburg. Part of the research involved walking in this city where walking is inconvenient, tiring and occasionally dangerous but also an opportunity to talk to all sorts of people on the street. Many have to walk because of limited public transport but some choose to walk and have interesting stories to tell about it. For more, see Andie Miller’s book of essays, Slow Motion, available in Regenstein.
What is your favorite work of literature to teach to undergraduates?
Any and all short plays by Samuel Beckett.
What do you like best about teaching college students at the University of Chicago?
Most are more interested in reading and discussing new work than in grades!