Katie Trumpener, Comparative Literature and English, Spring 2019

Courses in Yiddish and History of Art

I had a wonderful semester, and I have felt more intellectually focused yet also newly intellectually curious ever since. (I’ve tried to keep that feeling alive by auditing further courses every semester—and hope to continue this indefinitely.) Every faculty member should try this program—both for the incredible intellectual enrichment, and because it renews your faith in the university: I loved watching previously unknown colleagues being superb pedagogues, to my great benefit (and those of their other students). Yale is full both of amazing classes and amazing teachers! And just watching a junior colleague lecture magnificently every week (partly off the cuff) to a large auditorium has somehow made me feel less trepidation when I give my own talks now, more able to wing it…

During my TRL semester, the class that was supposed to be its centerpiece ended up being cancelled. I had hoped to boost a particular reading language ability (Yiddish). Instead, I ended up working on a different language (Spanish), taking a reading course that improving my comprehension enormously. I not only went on, the next semester, to audit a course IN Spanish, and still try to work on or read Spanish every day, but have also, throughout COVID, been trying to learn Italian as well. (Yiddish will have to wait; I’ll be back to it eventually.) So: the TRL semester reanimated my long-forgotten teenage aspiration to learn several languages simultaneously, and has had very concrete payoffs for my work, since a much broader range of texts is newly available!