The Point News had the pleasure of sitting down to talk with visiting Assistant Professor of English Daniel Yu, Ph.D., who started teaching at St. Mary’s College of Maryland as of Fall 2018. When asked why he chose the College out of other possible contenders, Yu mentioned the “intimate culture” that was a factor in his decision, along with the personal relationships that students and professors share in a smaller school setting. He says the appealing relationships between professors and students is “something that isn’t always typical in a college environment but is really valuable for learning, with everybody learning from each other.”
Yu explained his interest in literature beginning in the early eighteenth century. He also spoke of his interest in researching several topics that intersect with literature throughout history, such as “economics, religion and philosophy”, which Yu studies along with the “rise of novels in the eighteenth century.” Yu says he tries to make his work intentionally interdisciplinary, and references his Comparative Literature degree from Emory University that pushed him to further his studies in other languages, and made note that he studied “specifically French”, but also learned German and Latin while completing his graduate studies.
Although Yu is passionate about his studies, he mentioned different hobbies including an interest in basketball, as a Lakers fan growing up in Los Angeles, Calif. He mentioned LeBron James’ recent contract with the team, saying he “keeps up” with current events relating to the team. Yu said he is also excited to spend time at the beach because he was not as close to water where he studied in Atlanta, Ga.
He talked a bit about his previous studies before coming to the College and how his degrees help him to write poetry, another one of his interests. When asked to describe himself in a few words, Yu briefly noted himself as a son, a brother, a husband, a professor and a writer. When asked about his transition in preparation for the school year, Yu said it has been “challenging but really rewarding,” touching on the change of scenery since his move to Maryland and commenting on students’ tremendous efforts in his classes but also referring to the beginning of the semester as “something like a hurricane.” Adjusting to the new environment has been “fast-paced”, says Yu, but he is excited for the rest of the year.
When asked about any possible ideas for activities or courses in the English department that he could bring to the College, Yu mentioned an interest for a theory reading group, where critical theory fans could meet and read texts that provoke thoughts or discussions. Delving back into Yu’s interest in poetry, he answered questions on his own work and said he is currently working on the form of his poems. Right now he is focused on iambic poems, with unrhymed iambic pentameter being one of the challenges he is interested in mastering as well as free verse poems. He is interested in the “patterns of rhythmic language” within texts and plans to continue his education with his hopeful upcoming publication on gift giving in works of literature such as “Robinson Crusoe,” a topic that Yu has written about before.