Meet and Greet: Dr. Emily Weissbourd

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Lehigh Culture & Community

I’m so excited to introduce another new face in our community. Without further ado, Dr. Emily Weissbourd.

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Laura Fitzpatrick: What do you love about what you do?

Emily Weissbourd: Thinking about the long histories of ideologies of race and gender is really important to me, and I love that my work lets me do that in multiple arenas, whether in the classroom or at conferences or while poring over manuscripts. And I love finding ways to get other people excited about the fascinating and often super-weird 16th and 17th century texts that I study. (And I do not use the phrase “super weird” lightly. If you want to learn about transmitting religious identity through breast milk or avenging your (presumably) dead boyfriend by taking up piracy, I’ve got some excellent book recommendations…)

LF: What drew you to apply for the Lehigh job?

EW: When I first saw the listing, I was especially excited about the department’s focus on literature and social justice. As I got to know the department better through the interview process, I became increasingly impressed with the way that the faculty here balances teaching, research and community engagement, and is open to all sorts of interdisciplinary collaboration.

LF: What is your favorite book outside your field of study?

EW: There are so many! I have lots of imaginary alternate-universe fields of study ranging from 19th century women novelists to representations of kinship in present-day television. But Jane Eyre (and Jean Rhys’ amazing response to it, Wide Sargasso Sea) has always been a particularly important novel for me.

LF: Do you have a graduate school regret–something you did and wish you hadn’t, something you would have done in a different way, or something you didn’t do and wish you had?

EW: That’s a great question, and (again!) I can think of way too many answers. I wish I had been a bit bolder when I started graduate school about seeking out people who interested me (both within and outside of my program) and chatting with them. Most academics really like it when you ask them about their work! It also took me a little while to figure out work/life balance. Graduate studies are so unstructured that they can creep into more of your day than they should — forcing yourself to take some time off is really important, and in my case actually helps me to be more productive.

LF: What are you most looking forward to in your interactions with graduate students (in and/or out of coursework)?

EW: I’m looking forward to working with you on shaping your research projects — figuring out the big questions you want to ask about your field of study and how you might go about answering them — and to helping you figure out your career paths as you finish your degrees. I’m also excited to participate in a community of grad students who are interested in the relationship between literature and social justice.

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