Fairmont State University’s Dr. J Robert Baker, senior level professor of English, was invited to present a lecture to faculty and students at the Northwest Agriculture and Forestry University in Yangling, China.
Baker’s presentation entitled “Loneliness, Incomprehensibility, and Rage in Annie Dunne,” focused Sebastian Barry’s 2002 novel. Baker argued that Barry is emblematic of the rich and vigorous writing being done by Irish authors today.
“I was honored to be asked to go to Yangling and was glad to talk about one of Ireland’s most poetic contemporary novelists,” Baker said.
He was invited by the Department of Foreign Languages of the Northwest Agriculture and Forestry University. NAF University is the home institution of Chen Yi, who spent a year at Fairmont State as a visiting scholar in 2018-19 studying American literature and researching methods of teaching writing.
Professor Yin Jan Jun, the Director of International Exchanges in the Department of Foreign Languages, welcomed Baker and introduced his talk.
“We are delighted that Dr. Baker had this opportunity to continue to develop the exchange begun by Chen Yi between NAF University and Fairmont State,” Dr. Angela Schwer, chair of the Department of Language and Literature, said. “Scholarship is an international effort and it is built through the supportive work of scholars around the world.”
Baker said that the faculty at NAFU encouraged the students who attended the lecture to ask questions.
“They were well versed in British and American literature. They asked interesting questions about Virginia Woolf and William Faulkner, among others, and they were curious about techniques such as stream of consciousness,” he said.
Director Yin expressed the hope that there would be further exchanges between NAF University and Fairmont State perhaps beginning with a group of Chinese students studying at Fairmont State next summer. Chen Yi added that he hoped Fairmont faculty might teach at NAFU next summer. Schwer welcomed these possibilities, reflecting, “The more we share our common goals of study and research, the more we will understand each other and ourselves. Our common work can advance the possibilities of peace and cooperation.”
The Northwest Agriculture and Forestry University was founded in 1934 as the National Northwest College of Agriculture and Forestry. It currently enrolls more than 28,000 students in majors ranging from agriculture and forestry to the liberal arts, law, and medicine. The Department of Foreign Languages offers a major in English and minors in Russian and French. It is home to about 90 students each year.
Baker has taught at Fairmont State since August, 1994. A former chair of the Department of Language and Literature, he serves as Director of the Honors Program.