Dean Franco

Humanities Institute Director and Professor of English

Are you reading anything that’s giving you insight or useful and usable distraction at this point?

William James, for pluralism, Moby Dick for Ishmael’s equanimity, Deleuze (the book on Bergson) for slowing down time, and Arendt and Gramsci because revolution.

How about music? Films?

All the LPs. Mid-century Jazz. And my son has gone deep into Punk, so we’re revisiting all the late 70s and 80s classics.

What do you miss the most about being on campus?

Ah, the people: colleagues, staff, students . . .

The least?

Dressing up.

What research, scholarship, or academic meetings have you had to cancel or miss?

I was slated for plenary talks at two conferences on Border Studies and Latinx feminisms. I was so excited to visit with friends and colleagues in Ithaca and Tucson.

Are you rescheduling any of the above, or . . . ?

Nothing is clear, is it? I’ll keep writing. Present circumstances incline me to re-center some of my writing, so though I feel very distracted, I also feel some urgency to address these topics.

What’s been the biggest challenge about working at home?

Four adults, spotty WIFI, and no home office.

Picked up any new skills or hobbies, or revisited any old ones? (Zoom doesn’t count as a skill)

Both my boys (18 and 21) are home now, and it’s been a joy to bake and cook for a full house. There’s so much unstructured time for proofing, braising, simmering, and roasting.

Complete the following: “I can’t wait for summer, because then . . .”

I am, in fact, ambivalent about summer, and all the continued uncertainty combined with a lack of structure. That said, summer must be the time when we determine how we want to live in this world. For all the awful consequences of the virus and the quarantine, we’re also approaching a new horizon. We’re able to see with terrible clarity what is horrible and has been hidden (in plain sight, and only to some, it must be said), and there’s a real chance that we can change it. I really do believe that humanities knowledge and modes of thought are more important than ever for realizing that change. I don’t want a “new normal,” I want a better normal.

Categories: Faculty