Director of Yeshiva College Writing Program Will Teach Writing and Conduct Research in Kolkata, India
Liesl Schwabe, lecturer in English at Yeshiva College, has been awarded a Fulbright-Nehru Academic and Professional Excellence Fellowship. The seven-month grant will support Schwabe as she teaches several writing classes and conducts research at Presidency University in Kolkata, India.
Schwabe, who is also director of the writing program at Yeshiva College, draws from a long fascination with India; she has written extensively about Indian history and culture and studied there as an undergraduate. At Presidency University, Schwabe will teach classes that look to integrate memoir and personal experience within the context of more outward-looking research, guiding students to examine and share their perspectives on different aspects of their identities, from religious and economic to caste and even linguistic. Her own research will focus on the process of teaching in English in post-colonial India.
“I write a lot about religious pilgrimage in India and how that concept has evolved with the rise of the Asian middle class,” said Schwabe, whose work on the topic has appeared in Tricycle: The Buddhist Review. “I’m excited to write more about my experience of teaching and how that impacts my understanding of language, English, and the global Anglophone audience. Writers across the Indian diaspora and across the subcontinent are having a global moment. Many people in India are raised speaking English and are totally fluent. At the same time, many others believe the language continues a colonial dichotomy because it’s mainly accessed by more affluent citizens. I’m going to be looking to my students at Presidency to help me understand how they and their writing can add to that conversation.”
Schwabe felt that her experience overseeing the writing program at Yeshiva College contributed to her success as a Fulbright candidate. “I have loved teaching here so much, in large part because I realized that teaching writing as an outsider has often been how I strengthen my students’ voices,” she said. “There isn’t that assumed familiarity of someone from the inside. My years teaching here gave me confidence to apply to the Fulbright, because I was able to say, ‘Not only do I feel excited, but I also feel prepared.’ My students at YU have helped me become a better teacher because they’ve helped me know the right questions to ask to draw out that story.”
The prestigious award is also a reflection of the caliber of Schwabe’s scholarship and writing. “I have a foot in both worlds—I’m a creative writer but I teach in an academic institution and those can feel like very separate worlds,” she said. “This Fulbright feels like a recognition that there can be overlap there, which gives me more confidence in my teaching and writing. It’s also such an exciting moment for personal narrative that it means a lot to have the opportunity to be involved in that as people around the world get to read and write more to learn about one another.”
“As an educator and writer of real vision, Liesl Schwabe seems to me the ideal Fulbright lecturer: an instructor who can help to improve students’ writing skills in a world in which ‘global Englishes’ are increasingly essential to upward mobility; fundamentally strengthen students’ ability to marshal writing in a changing world; and provide colleagues with direction and inspiration in the teaching of writing,” said Dr. Joanne Jacobson, professor of English and associate dean for academic affairs at Yeshiva College. “She is an outstanding writing instructor, a skillful writing program administrator, and a talented writer of nonfiction. I am proud that she will be going to India from the Yeshiva College Department of English.”