B.A., M.A., Ph.D., Columbia University
Lawrence A. RosenwaldAnne Pierce Rogers Professor of American Literature; Professor of English
Americanist, translator, performer (music, theater), verse-writer, pacifist.
I retain pretty much all the interests I’ve ever had, but this is the order in which each interest has been central: first American diaries, in particular Emerson’s; then the theory and practice of translation, including the theory and practice of musical text-setting and the relations between words and music generally; then, for 15 years or so, the American literary representation of language and dialect contact; then Emerson's diaries again, for an edition I made of them for the Library of America; at the present moment, nonviolence and literature, representing the multilingual world, Yiddish literature and culture.
By subject: American literature, comparative literature, Jewish (especially Yiddish) literature, nonviolence and the literature of nonviolence, theater, translation and literary multilingualism. By approach: more and more interested in the extreme forms of teaching, theatrical lectures on the one hand, open-ended seminars, tutorials.
I've also been writing a series of more personal essays, notably on nonviolence and on translation. I'm a practicing translator from several languages, among them French, German, and Yiddish. I've been writing and performing verse narratives for early opera and other early music theater projects since 1988, and have by now written more than forty of them.
I’ve been a pacifist and war tax resister since 1987, that being the occasion for the writing I’ve done on nonviolence; I’ve been increasingly involved in Jewish life, as a Yiddishist and lay cantor and giver of sermons; I’ve been a semi-professional singer of early music since I was in college; my wife, Cynthia Schwan, and I have been married since 1976, and our twin daughters were born in 1980.