Lissi Athanasiou-Krikelis, Ph.D., assistant professor of English, shares her thoughts on teaching, technology, and growing up in Cyprus.
The Box: Why teach at NYIT?
I always envisioned education being fostered in multicultural settings where ideas and experiences are freely exchanged and where learning is enhanced on this basis alone. Because of its urban setting as well as its worldwide campuses, NYIT is a global university that embraces and nurtures diversity and therefore is an ideal place for me. I teach both language and literature, and I believe that the cluster of diverse-thinking minds in a cosmopolitan classroom brings forth perspectives and viewpoints essential to creating independent thinkers in the 21st century.
The Box: What are your research interests?
Metafiction is my dissertation topic from which my current research is expanding. It refers to the 20th- and 21st-century postmodern self-reflexive literature that foregrounds its artificiality through numerous literary devices. For example, characters are cognizant of their fictional state, narrators are themselves authors in their own fiction, or narrative plots have complex structures, which imply a world of simulation and simulacra. The ultimate intention of such narrative forms is to juxtapose the world of fiction with that of reality and blur the dividing line. I am also intrigued by the development of the metafictional novel in post-technological literature.
Parallel to my scholarly interests run my pedagogical interests in the teaching of language and literature within a technological context. I'm interested in examining what aspects of the classroom setting can easily be transferred to a digital environment, or how to adjust those that cannot so they aptly fit into this technological framework.
The Box: What are your proudest accomplishments?
Although I was born in the United States, I grew up in Cyprus—a small island in the Mediterranean Sea—only moving back to New York a number of years later to pursue a university degree. My intention was to major in literature and linguistics, obtain a master's degree in either field, and move back to Cyprus. I earned my M.A. in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) at Teachers College, Columbia University, and a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature at the Graduate Center, City University of New York. Obtaining a doctorate and securing a position in academia at a well-established university such as NYIT are my proudest accomplishments.
In addition, being able to teach and influence students from different disciplines and instill them with lifelong lessons and skills through literature is an accomplishment that has surpassed my humble childhood aspiration of becoming a teacher.
The Box: Why did you choose your career path?
My mother is an English teacher, and her career path has inspired mine in many ways. I was drawn to literature as a child and used to write poetry. As a second language learner, I wanted to help others learn English so they can accomplish their academic or professional goals. Combining linguistics and literature was, therefore, a natural choice in pursuing my bachelor's degree, and these two fields have helped to shape my career. At NYIT, I have the opportunity to practice both.
The Box: How do you use technology in your daily life?
When it comes to technology, I am like most people: I heavily depend on my phone, which contains everything I own, from memories to future plans, to documents and files, important dates, and birthday reminders. Dropbox is by far my most used app because it allows full access to all my files at any given time.
Lately, I have begun using online methods of editing pictures and creating online scrapbooks, which I print or share with friends. This task is meticulous and time consuming, and I am never up to date with my most recent photos. Nonetheless, I enjoy the process and value the final product.
The Box: What are your hobbies?
The hobby I practice most religiously is cooking because it requires my daily engagement regardless of the forces that govern my day. My favorite activity, however, is reading. Unfortunately, I don't have enough time for all the poetry, prose, and criticism in the world, so I am often disheartened by how little I have read in the abyss of books. As writer Jorge Luis Borges once noted: "I have always imagined that paradise will be a kind of library," and only there will I be gifted with an eternity of incessant reading.
The Box: What is one interesting fact about you that other people would be surprised to learn?
Growing up in Cyprus, I would spend my summer time at my father's village, a mesmerizing place that combines vineyards, beautiful beaches, and light blue skies. I miss the scorching sun under which I would eat a freshly cut grape from my father's vines.