Dr. Anna Muenchrath joins Appalachian State as the newest Visiting Assistant Professor of World Literature, and although she may be teaching remotely from Wisconsin, her ideas are still reaching our students in North Carolina.
As COVID-19 continues to spread throughout the U.S. many students and faculty members are forced to make sacrifices in order to keep themselves as well as their respective communities safe. Dr. Anna Muenchrath is no exception to this rule; following her visit to Boone in July the campus had her mesmerized by its beauty. Originally from Atlanta, she was excited to get back to her roots in the south. She also completed her undergraduate program not too far from Boone, at Vanderbilt University in Nashville. As we were talking about moving to the area, she explained to me that her safest bet would be to hold off on moving until next summer while teaching online, through Zoom, from her home in Wisconsin.
Online instruction certainly leaves more to be desired as Dr. Muenchrath shared with me some of her concerns about the subject. She feels it’s hard to get a solid grasp on the day to day operations of the department and the faculty within it. She doesn’t feel completely immersed in the English Department since most classes are held online and socializing with other professors is done completely through Zoom. With these frustrations comes a level of understanding as Dr. Muenchrath knows circumstances are different for everyone at the moment.
Even though she’s currently stuck in Wisconsin, that doesn’t stop Dr. Muenchrath from spreading information and knowledge. She’s currently working on a revision of her dissertation with the working title, “Actors, Institutions, and Networks: Untangling Global Literary Circulation in the 20th and 21st centuries.” This article, published in June, talks in great detail about her dissertation, which is about the journey of translation for different texts, in which each chapter focuses on a different text and how it migrates to various publishers and editors. Dr. Muenchrath believes literature brings humans from all over the globe together as it can connect us and spark discussion among people from all walks of life.
How literature circulates is not exclusive to her dissertation as she shares knowledge every day with her students at Appalachian State University. Dr. Muenchrath became enthralled with English while in high school. She was turned off by classes like math and science where right and wrong answers were concrete. After receiving her undergraduate degree she attended graduate school at the University of Wisconsin in Madison where she began teaching world literature and earned her PH.D. Her goal as a teacher is to make her students feel more confident in whatever text they are diving into. She wants her students to have an openness with literature so that they might view themselves as an important part of the reading process.
“A text isn’t there to be learned… it’s there to be discovered and read by certain people.”
At the end of the day she wants her students to feel empowered by the books they happen to be reading, as if whatever it is they are reading is made specifically for them.
Credits: written by Alex Dalton, photo supplied by Anna Muenchrath.