How did you end up a college prof?
I had a long and winding road to graduate school. After graduating from Washington and Lee University with a degree in French and English, I was uncertain as to my future path and began working on the production side of the publishing business in New York. I’m afraid I didn’t enjoy the work, and in my spare time, I was reading the material to which I had never been exposed in college, namely African, South Asian, Francophone, and Anglophone literature, film, and post-colonial theory. I began a PhD program in French at Indiana University, Bloomington and found that I missed the interdisciplinarity and comparative nature of my previous academic work. I left Indiana after my MA in French literature and began my studies at the University of Chicago. English is a very interdisciplinary field, and in the English program at the University of Chicago, I was able to study film and literature with a global and theoretical perspective. After my PhD, I taught and participated in a post-doctoral program at UCLA entitled Cultures in Transnational Perspective prior to arriving at K in the fall of 2008.
What do you love about K?
I love the seriousness and engagement of the students. Having taught at a number of larger institutions, I can say with certainty that it is a rarity to have classes in which student motivation and preparedness can be taken for granted. It allows our classes to be spaces in which we can have rigorous discussions about the political, aesthetic, and cultural issues engaged by literary texts.
Book that changed your life?
Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses. I had never before encountered the vividness, hilarity, and intellectual heft that I found in this book. He was a politically daring writer in ways that of course proved personally catastrophic. I had never read someone who brought together the political and theoretical in such sophisticated ways. When it was first published, the book was discussed in terms of freedom of speech and blasphemy, and since 9/11, it’s been read as a cultural betrayal. It is a difficult but productive book to teach because the book itself and its reception raise so many issues central to post-colonial studies.
Babli Sinha is Associate Professor of English and Director of Media Studies at Kalamazoo College. She received a PhD in English literature from The University of Chicago, a MA in French literature from Indiana University, Bloomington, and a BA in French and English literatures from Washington and Lee University. She is the author of Cinema, Transnationalism, and Colonial India: Entertaining the Raj (Routledge, 2013) and editor of South Asian Transnationalisms: Cultural Exchange in the TwentiethCentury (Routledge, 2012). Articles include “Empire films and the dissemination of Americanism in colonial India,” (South Asian History and Culture, 2011), “Dissensus, Education, and Lala Lajpat Rai’s Encounter with W.E.B. DuBois,” (South Asian History and Culture, 2015), and “`Lowering our Prestige’: American cinema, mass consumerism, and racial anxiety in colonial India.” (Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa, and the Middle East 2009).
Junior Seminar, African Literatures, Genre: the Novel, Classical Hollywood in Global Context, African Cinemas, Cinema and the Spectator, The Imperial Romance and its Critics, Post-colonial Literatures, Literary Theory, Global Media and Visual Culture