Saturday, July 08, 2006

My biography, 1988-present

Someone asked me to explain how I got to Basel, and I did, so here it is for the whole world to read.

In the fall of 1988, I went to Penn to do a Ph. D. in Comparative Literature. I was ABD in the spring of 1991, when I went to Berlin for a year to work on my dissertation (on Christa Wolf, Doris Lessing, and Marguerite Duras).

That year turned into more: I was in Berlin for about twenty months in all, and then I got a job teaching English-language courses in the English Department at the University of the Saarland in Saarbrücken.

I taught there for two-and-a-half years, during which time I completed my dissertation and tried, unsuccessfully, to get a tenure-track job in a North American English or German department. Then I got my job here in Basel, starting in October 1995—more or less the same job I had in Saarbrücken.

I came here planning to stay for two years, and that has turned into a lifetime. When I began to be more interested in literary translation than literary criticism and to concentrate more on my own poetry, I stopped trying to get back to North America to be a professor. The decision was made easier since Andrea did not really want to move to North America.

So here I am still, happy to be living in a wonderful European city teaching English to support my literary habits and raising my three kids to be Swiss. :-)


Anonymous said...

So you have lived in Basel longer than you have lived in any one other place ... Is this true?

-- dhsh

Andrew Shields said...

As of today, I have lived in Basel for ten years and about ten months. Until a couple years ago, the longest I had ever lived in one place continuously was in Palo Alto, from September 1980 to June 1988, so I have beaten that. But when I left Palo Alto in 1988, I calculated out that I had lived half my life there: 12 years out of almost 24. So I will have lived in Basel longer than anywhere else only in October 2007.

The longest I ever stayed at one address was from September 1974 to August 1980 (Brookside in Ottawa Hills). I will break that record soon: I have been at Hirzbrunnenallee in Basel since September 2000, so in September 2006 I will have been longer than I was at Brookside. But then I will move in October. :-)