May 9th, 2021, 12:22 PM

Keeping Up With the Professors of AUP

By Farrah Aridou
Maria Nieblas’ Favorite Theater. Image Credit: Maria Nieblas
I sat down with professors Geoffrey Gilbert and Maria Nieblas to discuss how they have been making the most of this past year in confinement

You may know Geoffrey Gilbert as your professor for a Comparative Literature or English class, or Maria Nieblas sharing her passion for cinema, teaching the Acting in French course, or you have most likely have had her at least once for French class. However, the professors at AUP are much more than their professions. In my discussions with Profs. Gilbert and Nieblas, I found myself having more in common with them than expected. Geoffrey's passion for writing and Maria's interest in cinema resonated with me as a lover of art and novice writer. It is easy to think that our vast differences in age would be a major barrier in understanding each other but COVID has brought up similar questions about life for all all of us regardless of age. I found myself entering into a deep conversation of about identity when talking with Prof. Gilbert where we expressed our feelings about where and when we feel most free to be ourselves. With Prof. Nieblas, our talks about film entered into a nuanced discussion about the use of violence in film which exposed me to a new perspective outside of my own. During our talks, it felt almost like catching up with an old friend. In fact, I received some amazing recommendations for books, films, and recipes to share with the AUP community that I myself will be sure to check out. 

Current Reads:

Prof. Gilbert 

Don't Let Me Be Lonely by Claudia Rankine

"This passage that I really love relates to thinking about social or political situation meets the question of language and creativity that I think is just absolutely brilliant. In relation to my work, the words refer to how for me being in a place structured by political economy, institutions, life events and I feel something. I feel sad and I think about about what to do with the thought of that feeling. It's a weird word as it has layers and layers of meaning because of multiple ways in which others have come to use that word. So I think about how to comes to terms with that word and use it in my writing in a fresh way because then you can begin to do a different kind of analytical work relating to the political institutional work."

Prof. Gilbert's Favorite Passage from Don't Let Me Be Lonely. Image Credit: Geoffrey Gilbert 

Prof. Nieblas 

Les gratitudes by Delphine De Vigan 

I will leave you with a favorite passage of mine from the book: 

"Quand je m'imagine vielle, vraiment vielle, quand j'essaie de me projeter dans quarante ou cinquante ans, ce qui me paraît le plus douloureux, le plus insoutenable, c'est l'idée que plus personne ne me touche. La disparition progressive ou brutale du contact physique. Peut être que le besoin n'est plus le meme, que le corps se rétracte, se recroqueville, s'engourdir comme lors d'un long jeûne. Ou peut-être qu'au contraire il crie famine, un cri muet, insoutenable, que plus personne ne veut entendre. Quand Michael s'avance vers moi de son pas chancelant, mal équilibré, j'aimerais la serrer contre moi, lui insuffler quelque chose de ma force, de mon énergie." 



"When I imagine myself old, really old, when I try to project myself in forty or fifty years, what seems to me the most painful, the most unbearable, is the idea that no one touches me any more. The gradual or brutal disappearance of physical contact. Perhaps the need is no longer the same, that the body reacting, cowering, numbing as in a long fast. Or perhaps on the contrary he shouts famine, a silent, unsustainable cry, which no one wants to hear any more. When Michael moves towards me grim his staggering, ill-balanced step, I would like to clamp him against me, to give him something of my strength, of my energy"

Image Credit:


Prof. Gilbert

"I have finally perfected the lemon tart and I have a really great rhubarb tart as well. As an academic, I usually find pleasure in reading and thinking so I am used to having a lot of time being alone. So during the summers, I usually travel to different places and during that time I meet with my friends and we cook together. It has always been important to me to be able to feed my friends in ways that are exciting. Assembly is the big part of cooking for me and hospitality. If you are like me, one of the lucky people, who have a solid place to live etc, it is important to share and food is just one of the ways of sharing what you have." 

Photo Credit: Geoffrey Gilbert 

Prof. Nieblas

"This is an artistic endeavor for me. Usually with cooking I just look in my fridge and using my creativity come up with different meals to make with whatever is in my fridge at the moment. This is why it is fun for me because I do not make food just to eat but it is the imaginative and creative aspect of it all that interests me. I do not usually make anything very grand or sophisticated. My meals are very simple but with an added touch of imagination to them." 

Photo Image Credit: Maria Nieblas 


Prof. Nieblas

Film: Parasite 

"For the cinema, I like to see all types of film. I do not only watch the most intellectual types of films. I do not really like big blockbuster films like the way a lot of Hollywood films are made. Those films have a lot of action, explosions, and violence but there is nothing really there. I like films with a message, films that really touch your heart.  For me, I like to discover films from different countries. It is interesting to watch films from Asia for example Korean, Thai, and Chinese films. There is a film that came out I think about two years ago that I really love it is called Parasite. This is the most recent film that had a strong impact on me."

Image Credit: Benjamin Seznec 

Museum Exposition: Hopper 

"It is very expensive to go to the theater but when I do, it is to see my friends, who are actors, perform or if there is an actor that I really love and want to see this particular piece of work. I do not usually go to the theater with a specific type of play I would like to see. As for museums, when I have the time I love to go; currently my favorite exposition that I have seen is one on Edward Hopper."

Photo Credit: Edward Hopper Painting, Fine Arts Musuems of San Francisco

Prof. Gilbert:

Books: Imperial Liquor, The Shore, and Don't Let Me Be Lonely 

"I gravitate to poetry works or works that have a lyrical energy to them but are quite realist and interested in moving around complex social issues. The university mode of thinking, like the ways of thinking when it comes to publishing in my field can sometimes produce runts in thinking. Therefore the wilderness of the poetic connection feels super important to me. The not so serious writing allows me to do the kinds of thinking that I would not be able to do in my normal academic writing." 


Image Credits: Geoffrey Gilbert 

Our professors, just like us, have lives outside of the academic setting. Hopefully this article can shed some light on the interests of the faculty that make AUP what it is!