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Faculty Profile Q&A: Philippe Brand

July 27, 2012

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    Philippe Brand, Assistant Professor in Foreign Languages & Literature

The following Q&A is part of a series created by the college dean’s office to introduce new faculty. Get to know Assistant Professor in Foreign Languages & Literature Philippe Brand, who joins the faculty this fall, in the interview below. 

Education:  Ph.D. 2011, M.A. 2006, B.A. 1998, University of Colorado Boulder.

Research & Teaching Interests:  20th and 21st century French and Francophone literature, film, and culture.

What most excites you about joining the LC community?
My answer to this question will be a little bit different as I’ve been at LC since Fall 2011, when I arrived as a Visiting Assistant Professor.  Rephrasing the question as, “What excites you about staying at LC?” I would answer “Many things!”

Over the past year, I’ve really enjoyed getting to know my students. I’ve found them to be smart, intellectually curious, and committed to engaging with the world around them. I also like the fact that here at LC, both research and teaching excellence are highly valued and they are not considered to be separate things. Finally, one of the biggest things that has impressed me is the friendly atmosphere among faculty members from different departments. My previous institution was a lot larger and there wasn’t much interaction between faculty members in different disciplines—that’s certainly not the case here. Over the last year, I’ve been touched and inspired by the warm welcome from everyone here at LC—the students, the administration, and my fellow faculty. A lot of places pay lip service to the idea of community, but I think LC really makes a concerted effort to cultivate it, to all of our benefit.

Describe the current trajectory of your scholarly research.
Up until now, my research has been focused in large part on the question of how novelists across the French-speaking world are reacting to our contemporary state of affairs—a moment in time when literature is facing a lot of competition from the internet, from television, from film, from all the screens small and large that are taking up ever more space in our cultural landscape. It’s a question that I’ll continue to explore, and the answers are always changing, which is one of the pleasures (and one of the challenges!) of working on the extreme contemporary period.

Over the summer, I just had the pleasure of participating in an NEH Summer Seminar based in Paris that looked at 20th century French history. It was incredibly stimulating and educational, and I think the seminar and the connections I made will inform my research and my teaching in a variety of ways in the years to come. While I was in Paris, I also had the chance to strengthen some ties with some writers and scholars with whom I’ve worked in the past, and I’m looking forward to continuing to collaborate with my peers in France, Canada, and across the Francophone world.

Finally, thinking about the future, I plan to devote more time to deepening my knowledge of contemporary film and visual culture: two areas that have always fascinated me!

What kind of hobbies or special activities do you enjoy outside of work?
I love food and wine, so needless to say Portland is a pretty great place for me. I enjoy riding my bike around town, but if I’m being honest I have to admit that I haven’t (yet) worked up the courage to tackle the hill that leads up to campus. Someday…

What were your childhood goals/aspirations?
To read all the books in the library. It was a bigger task than I realized at the time, I’m still working on it.

What are you listening to in your car right now?
OPB for the news. For music, anything from Antibalas to The xx.

What was your favorite childhood story?
Hmm… I was a voracious reader as a kid (perhaps not surprisingly for someone who ended up making a career out of reading), so it’s hard to pick just one. Maybe I’ll go with the “Choose Your Own Adventure” series. The professor in me appreciates the fact that the series forces you to take an active role as a reader, and the literary formalist in me likes the “garden of forking paths” aspect that made me feel like narrative potential was almost infinite. Anything could happen!