Yelena Bailey is the newest addition to the English Department faculty. Fresh from her graduate program at UC—San Diego, Professor Bailey says she was attracted to SPU by “its healthy sense of community.” She continues, “In contrast to my experiences teaching at universities and colleges in southern California, as well as my time as a graduate student, I knew my scholarship and teaching would be seen as a valuable contribution to [SPU’s] mission.”
As a classroom instructor, Professor Bailey is keen to emphasize how course content relates to students’ lives and, as importantly, how it will promote “critical thinking and reflection that will continue far beyond the boundaries of the classroom.” Her research interests lie in “understanding the cultural and political histories that contextualize black diaspora literature, as well as how this literature corresponds to political and identity formations,” she writes.
The path to an English professorship wasn’t exactly straightforward for Dr. Bailey but all the more meaningful for its thoughtful twists and turns. “When people find out that I received my bachelor’s degree in physics, they often ask me how I ended up becoming an English professor,” she writes. “The answer is that I took a Spanish and Latin American literature course my freshman year and was astounded by what I learned about world history and issues of social justice. I realized then that literature is unique in its ability to cultivate empathy and convey experiences and histories that were formerly unknown to a reader.
“During that first semester of college, I got hooked. I added a second major in Spanish and Latin American literature, began to study Cuba, and eventually made my way to African-diaspora and English-language literature in graduate school. As clichė as it sounds, I became a professor because I want to inspire similar moments of cultural and social awakening in my students.”
Welcome, Professor Bailey!