Andrea Bachner

Andrea Bachner, International Faculty Fellow

"I see my courses as a kind of education in international work, rather than as a specific class with Comparative Literature content…"

 


 

As a scholar of Comparative Literature, intercultural and interdisciplinary work is at the core of what I do. My linguistic expertise in Chinese (both modern Mandarin and classical Chinese), Spanish, German, and French (I also read Italian, Portuguese, and Catalan fluently), as well as knowledge of these cultural traditions, allows me to take up the intercultural challenge of the discipline of Comparative Literature and to be in dialogue with different cultures across the globe.

I am particularly interested in how culture and cultural differences are represented and negotiated in different contexts and media, how cultural identity is imagined and expressed in literature, film, art, and popular culture, and how such representations can help combat cultural stereotypes and champion intercultural tolerance.

Being an International Faculty Fellow (IFF) motivates me to think beyond my own discipline and to conceive of my teaching as an introduction to interculturality and internationally oriented perspectives. The core of the IFF Program is its very generous research grant, which is especially valuable because of its flexibility and its three-year duration. This time frame allows research continuity and has made it possible for me to envision my future work in even more intercultural and international directions. I would like to find ways of making my own courses visible to and relevant for students from across the disciplines, to allow them to see my courses as a kind of education in intercultural literacy – rather than as just a Comparative Literature class.

The Fellowship has created opportunities for me to become acquainted with the different programs of the Einaudi Center and to start networking with other faculty across different departments and colleges whose research is also international in scope. I am currently collaborating with Pedro Erber from Romance Studies: we are co-editing a special issue of the journal Verge, co-teaching a class, and organizing a roundtable at the Global Asias conference at Penn State in the spring of 2015. I would like to organize a workshop on new approaches to Transpacific Studies in the spring of 2016, an event that would bring together Cornell faculty and outside presenters.

Only through international study can students become informed global citizens. What is more important, however, are the insights and intellectual and personal maturity that can only come from understanding other contexts and other cultures. Global citizenship implies an understanding of the relativity of one’s own cultural context and assumptions and a keen interest in and sensitivity to other perspectives. A deep understanding of cultural differences – of the multiplicity of cultures and perspectives – makes us aware of the rich diversity of our own cultures and leads to a more tolerant and compassionate attitude towards others.