What I think: Sandie Bermann

  Sandie Bermann, the Cotsen Professor in the Humanities and professor of comparative literature Photo by Denise Applewhite, Office of Communications
Monday, July 29, 2019

By Jamie Saxon, Office of Communications

Sandra (Sandie) Bermann, Princeton’s Cotsen Professor in the Humanities and professor of comparative literature, wanted to be a professional opera singer.

A lyric soprano, she began to prepare for a life in the opera at Smith College, studying French and Italian. She read literature in these languages as well as English literature. The experience set her on a new path. “I discovered my love of literature, love of language and love of writing about them,” she said. “I just decided this was probably more me.” She changed her major from voice to Italian.

After earning her Ph.D. at Columbia University, Bermann joined the Princeton faculty in 1976. Her teaching interests include migration and translation, literary theory, issues in comparative and world literature, poetry and poetics, and historiography and literary theory. She co-founded the Program in Translation and Intercultural Communication with Michael Wood, headed the president’s working group to create the now named Novogratz Bridge Year Program, and is faculty head of the interdisciplinary research community, “Migration: People and Cultures Across Borders.”

Bermann has immersed herself in the student experience at Princeton. She was head of Whitman College from 2011 to 2019, has been a Bridge Year fellow for years, and has served on dozens of committees related to academics, student life, diversity and inclusion, and service.

Below are musings drawn from a May 28 conversation.

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