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Lastinga127 ProfileofKatharineH. Jewett, Winnerofthe1997 GraduateStudentEssayPrize Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate It isthat we are powerful beyond measure It is our light, not our darkness that frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? Glory is notjust in some ofus, it's in everyone ofus. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from ourown fear, ourpresence automatically liberates others. — Nelson Mandela, 1994 Inaugural Speech (quoted by Katharine Jewett) It is a somewhat unusual experience to write a profile of someone I have never met... Orrather, ofsomeone I have onlymetthrough a few pages thatshe submittedto Women In French Studies. My first encounter with Katie Jewett was through her anonymous essay that Adèle King asked me to read andjudge along with others, and indeed, hers was mytop choice. What I attractedme tothe essay that bynow has been published in our 1997 issue ("Woman's inter-mission: Speaking between in L 'Ecole des Femmes") was less the criticism of Molière's text per se—although that was valuable too—than what it revealed about the mind of its anonymous author... I admired the energy and the creativity, the fearless manner in which the author dared question the text, wisely ignoring previous readings ofthe play. Rather, the author ventured intonew paths in waysthat are often difficultto sustain outofthe freedom of graduate school, when one's intellectual enthusiasm is too often mitigated with the publishability or marketability ofone's "writing product." Academic audacity must be rewarded, I thought. A few weeks later, as I read the papers that Katie sentme so as to help me write her profile, I glanced athercurriculum vitae. Ithad all the right sections, filledwith all the right names: good alma-mater (University ofMichigan), well-respected dissertation committee members (AlinaClej, DomnaC. Stanton, Marie-HélèneHuet, CarinaYervasi), impressive lists ofhonors and fellowships, a budding academic production ofconference presentations. I conscientiously read her dissertation proposal (The Daily Mir- 128Women in French Studies ror: Production, Play andArt in Nineteenth-Century Paris) and reflected that was it awell-thought, well-designeddissertationthatprovokedboth questions andthoughts... But I have to admit that ofthe few lines Katie sent me, the ones that I found most interesting and most revealing were grouped in a little section in her vitae called "Teaching and Research Interests," which left little doubt as to the enthusiast learner she must be: Modern French literature and culture, 19*-century French poetry, early French cinema, ^-century French literature, theories ofthe visual, translation. I, an eighteenth-century person, filled inthe blanks: ofcourse, the omission of 18* -century literature mustbe an unfortunate slip. How could one interested in the theories ofthe visual not enjoy Diderot and his colleagues? Bythe time I read Katie's "Autobiography," as she titledher personalnarrative, I knew I was right; the lack ofmention ofthe 18* centurywas merely an oversight. The way she envisions her role in academia is truly that of'aphilosophe: "Through teaching andwriting in my career as aprofessor, I hope to spreadthe contagion ofintellectual curiosity as far and wide as possible. I plan to show women, as my advisors have shown me, that it is nottheir lotto be aminority in academia or in any other field. It is myjob as ateacher, scholarandmentorto help others cultivate the liberatingpride and talent ofwhich Nelson Mandela spoke." Hernextparagraph made the link between her academic service to women and her service to women at large through her involvement with child-care issues, because in her own words, "Although I feel it is wrong for child care to be labeled a women's issue ___ Excellent, affordable care allows such women the time, energy and emotional security to cultivate their professional selves." So when Katie Jewett does not work on Molière, Zola, Balzac and others, she serves working families in helping develop daycare, serving on auniversity-wide Child Care Task Force and founding aunique (tomyknowledge) program ofrecognition ofchild care providers. So as conclusion of sorts—because, who would want to conclude at the dawn of her career?~to this profile, I was glad to...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2166-5486
Print ISSN
1077-825x
Pages
pp. 127-128
Launched on MUSE
2016-04-06
Open Access
No
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