College of Humanities Newsletter

Spring 2013, Volume 7, Issue 2

In This Issue

Departments and Programs

  • Asian American Studies
  • Chicana/o Studies
  • English
  • Gender & Women’s Studies
  • Liberal Studies & Humanities Interdisciplinary Program
  • Linguistics
  • Modern & Classical Languages & Literatures
  • Philosophy
  • Religious Studies
  • Office of Interdisciplinary Studies:
    • American Indian Studies
    • Central American Studies
    • Jewish Studies
    • Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies
    • Queer Studies
    • Russian Studies
    • Sustainability Studies

Not quite the PROUST QUESTIONNAIRE…with apologies to Vanity Fair and Marcel Proust

Marcel Proust

This past fall the College of Humanities welcomed three new faculty members, who bring their talents to the Jewish Studies Interdisciplinary Program and the departments of English and Religious Studies. As they settled into their second semester at CSUN, we asked them to respond to a brief, modified Proust questionnaire, so named for the writer Marcel Proust, who answered the somewhat probing set of personal questions twice during his lifetime.

Many thanks to our faculty members who so willingly shared with us their time, thought, wit, and honesty. And because our College grants officer is the one who pesters freshman faculty to participate in this exercise each year, the dean's office thought it only appropriate this spring that she should have to answer the questions herself.

Each answered the questions to which they most wanted to respond.

Lauren Byler
Assistant Professor, English

Professor Lauren Byler
Photo courtesy of
Lee Choo

Dr. Byler earned her Ph.D. in English at Tufts University. Her primary area of study is Victorian literature. She also is interested in and teaches courses on film, literary theory, feminism, queer theory, and children's literature.

What is your greatest fear?
Snakes. Even plastic ones.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
It's a tie between procrastination, self-doubt, and being chronically 10 minutes late for everything.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?
Laziness and lack of pride in one's work.

What is your greatest extravagance?
Lately, since I have my first real job, I've been buying a lot of clothes and shoes. It felt cleansing to donate the high school–era clothing I had still been wearing in graduate school.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Completing my dissertation was pretty nice, as was becoming a two-time All American runner in college, but lately I've been pretty proud of laughing bemusedly at family members who tell me how pointless my career is rather than getting into arguments with them about academia.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
Losing the ability to read.

Which talent would you most like to have?
Patience. And maybe being a better cook. I don't have much in the way of imagination or an attention span when it comes to the kitchen.

Jennifer Thompson
Assistant Professor, Jewish Studies Interdisciplinary Program

Professor Jennifer Thompson
Photo courtesy of
Lee Choo

Dr. Thompson earned her Ph.D. in ethics and society at Emory University. She is CSUN's first Amado Professor of Applied Jewish Ethics and Civic Engagement, a professorship created by a generous endowment from the Maurice Amado Foundation. Thompson teaches courses that focus on the Jewish ethical approach to communal and political challenges.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
Being penny-wise and pound-foolish.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?
Refusal to listen to good sense.

What is your greatest extravagance?
Too many pets.

When and where were you happiest?
I don't know about "happiest" exactly, but growing up in Alaska I regularly got to feel awed and lucky to witness the Northern Lights and other incredible natural surroundings and to be able to go out on a hike in broad daylight at 10 p.m.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Having survived a 1,700-mile car trip across the desert in August with two dogs, two cats, and a child. Turning in a complete book manuscript to my publisher is a close second.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
Being woken up from a deep sleep by any of the aforementioned cats and dogs.

What is it that you most dislike?
See above.

Which talent would you most like to have?
Cooking well, reliably, and wanting, reliably, to cook.


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