Nerd of the Month, Priya Purohit, is an Associate Academic Director at the GBSP Stanford program and a well-known Harry Potter buff, currently researching at Indiana University, Bloomington’s Maurer School of Law. Priya has some fun with our Nerd of the Month profile while dreaming about her biography, as written by Bernardine Evaristo.
Name: Priya Purohit
What I’m Doing: I am currently a PhD Candidate in English Literature at Indiana University, Bloomington. In addition to working on my dissertation, I am co-teaching a course on popular American fiction (we read The Godfather! And Stephen King! And Harry Potter!), and conducting research for two centers – the Center for Constitutional Democracy and the Center for the Global Legal Profession.
Great Books & Me, Sitting In a Tree: I was a PA at Stanford in 2011, and then I served as co-AD with the wonderful Steve Volk this past summer (at Stanford as well).
Nerdy Fun Fact: I spent about two full days getting lost in the British Museum (in Bloomsbury, London)…and loved every second of it. But then as I approached the end of my two-day-journey-through-the-millennia, I got so worried that I hadn’t retained any of the information that I ended up creating a quiz for myself. I got an A-, if you’re wondering. Self-nepotism was not present in the grading curve.
Nerdy Fun Fact II (Nerdiest Attribute): See above answer. I am obsessive about retaining information. Sometimes this is good when I have to read 100 or so books for my PhD qualifiers; other times it is bad because I know WAY too much about The Real Housewives of Any City.
What I’m Reading: Pigeon English by Stephen Kelman. It reminds me a lot of another book I love, Londonstani, by Gautam Malkani.
My literary All-Stars: I have three favorite books and I will absolutely NOT choose between them. In An Antique Land, by Amitav Ghosh; The Remains of the Day, by Kazuo Ishiguro; and The Count of Monte Cristo, by Alexandre Dumas. The first because Ghosh writes in the most unbelievably gorgeous prose, narrating a quasi-fictional anthropological tale through the lens of an archivist; the second because I think that Ishiguro has created the standard by which all unreliable narrators should be judged in Stevens; and the third because goshdarnit, I love an adventure!
“Write My Life, Please”: I would have Bernardine Evaristo write my life story. She is such an energetic writer, always refusing to conform to generic expectations. And this refusal to conform has generated some amazingly intrepid and innovative literature – Blonde Roots, The Emperor’s Babe, to name just two! And I met her at a conference over the summer…and she was just as phenomenal a human being as she is an author.
Languages I Use to Say Things About Strangers: I speak Spanish, Hindi, and Marathi very well. I speak Gujarati fairly well, and I can read in both French and Latin. Less so in Latin and more so in French. Gabe would obviously win in a Latin contest. I actually wouldn’t even enter that contest. And I would encourage others to refrain from doing so as well.
Best Word: Whimsy
Worst Word: Amazeballs
Nerd Alert II (Nerds Brunch: The Prequel): I would have brunch with Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. Obviously they are best friends and therefore come as a package deal. I would purchase this package deal with a Groupon. Then we would go to Victor’s in Seattle for coffee and bread pudding. And then Tina would retroactively ask me to star in 30 Rock as Liz Lemon’s adopted little sister. I would accept with an original line that I came up with: “yes, yes, a thousand and three times yes.”
What’s your favorite holiday tradition? I love watching the Lord of the rings trilogy with my siblings. We make amazing treats and fly through the entire trilogy in a single day. We eat, we watch, we (and by we I mean I) act out our favorite parts, e.g. when Gandalf falls into Moria while saving the rest of the fellowship from Balrog, and we argue over our “spirit characters.” Obviously I want to be Legolas, but both my sister and brother firmly maintain that I am more of a Gimli.
Question for Future Nerd: Hello, Nerd. If you could be one member of the Fellowship of the Rings, who would you be?