Photo by Simon Boes (C’18)
By Simon Boes
There’s a new face in the office of Gailor 133: Professor of English Maha Jafri. Jafri comes to Sewanee well equipped with an English B.A. from John Hopkins, while also minoring in French. Next, Jafri continued her studies at Northwestern and received her Ph.D. The hiring process for Sewanee is competitive, and Jafri is “exceptionally happy to be here.” She also characterizes The University of the South as a mix between “warmth and formality.” Furthermore, Jafri mentions “Sewanee has improved my quality of life, I’m becoming more outdoorsy and oddly enough a morning person.” Jafri also beautifully puts into words a feeling often ineffable for some, “My life is unrecognizable to me; yet I haven’t found myself displeased,” which is a great thought for students who are about to move onto their next stage of life.
As English Professor and expert on the Victorian era, some of her favorite novels include Jane Eyre, Middlemarch, Moby Dick, Great Expectations, Lolita, and the Woman in White. Jafri, true to her teaching sensibilities, states, “These novels teach sympathy and skepticism.” Teaching many classes of the newly retired Dr. John Reishman, Jafri says, “These are big shoes to step into. John is so beloved and I hope to sustain the commitment he inspired. Consequently, Jafri is well on her way to doing that. Erin Smolskis (C’17) comments on her first class with Jafri, “In addition to being an excellent survey of Victorian prose poetry, Dr. Jafri’s curriculum and expectations of her students enable them a great deal of agency in their own learning experience.” The class also includes a teaching element for the students to get a better grasp on how the Victorian era’s literature influenced the world at the time. One parent who attended class mentioned, “It really feels like a graduate level course when the entire class discusses not only the concentrated subject but explains how it relates to the world.” The University of the South and its students are ecstatic to welcome Dr. Jafri to the school.