By the time they graduate, students majoring in English may no longer associate the word “cosmopolitan” with the popular mixed drink. Starting next fall, recently hired assistant professor of English Tanya Agathocleous will introduce students to the nonalcoholic meaning of cosmopolitan.
Agathocleous, who specializes in cosmopolitanism in British literature, will join Yale’s faculty next year. Currently a lecturer at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J., Agathocleous is one of several recent English Department hires specializing in British literature. She will teach an introductory English class in the fall and a junior seminar on film and the Victorian city, English Director of Undergraduate Studies Vera Kutzinski said.
Though Agathocleous is primarily interested in 19th- and 20th-century British literature, she has also concentrated on other aspects and periods of English literature. Her most recent book, “Teaching Literature: A Companion” is a collection of essays written by prominent scholars that recount their experiences teaching literature and offer practical suggestions for other professors. She has also written a biography of George Orwell.
English Chairwoman Ruth Yeazell said Agathocleous’ wide variety of academic interests persuaded the department to hire her.
“[Agathocleous] was clearly the best candidate for the position,” Yeazell said. “We were looking for someone who not only has a great background in scholarship and teaching but also who could range considerably outside their field of interest. She can do that.”
Agathocleous said she was looking forward to teaching at Yale.
“There are many many things about Yale that I am very excited about,” Agathocleous said. “Teaching at Yale will be very different from teaching at Rutgers, and I hope the smaller size of the school will allow me to get to know my students a lot better.”
Though Yeazell said the English department was not looking to hire an expert in any particular field, she said the decision to hire Agathocleous is consistent with a recent trend towards expanding British literature instruction.
“You could say that for the past three or four years that we’ve had it in the back of our minds to strengthen Anglophone world literature at Yale,” Yeazell said. “[Agathocleous] definitely adds to that field, but that was not the only reason that we hired her.”
Yeazell cited the recent hiring of English professors Mokhtar Ghambou and James Kearney as evidence of this trend.