Professor Profile: Treat Yourself with Compassion and Kindness

Visiting French professor Corine Stofle discusses her life, research, and advice for students

Photo by Nina Johnson

Photo by Nina Johnson

Born in Guadeloupe, Dr. Corine Stofle lived in France for several years before receiving both her undergraduate and graduate degrees from UC Berkeley and joining us at Reed as a Visiting Associate Professor for the French Department. Her research focuses on minority authors and how they use literary forms as a way to express and resist cultural domination, especially in genres like dystopia and comedy. “Mostly, I'm interested in the theories of humor and laughter. And the ways that some Caribbean authors sort of have been left out of that conversation that they really have profound things to add.” 

For Stofle, her research is incredibly personal. “I feel that I have sort of a status of an insider,” she explains, “as a Francophone person, myself, and also [as someone with] a status of outsider, as an academic … it's challenging for me, but it's also very enriching.” This shows in the way she teaches. In the classroom, Stofle speaks with passion for her subject, making it clear that she cares very much for what her students are learning. In fact, one of her favorite things about coming to Reed is her ability to teach courses in what she loves. “I was hired to teach a literature that's not necessarily sought after, outside of here. Teaching minority literature, teaching Francophone literature, is not a thing that's necessarily valued at other institutions. Being able to teach what I truly enjoy is what I was trained for, and also what means a lot to me — it's an amazing opportunity.”

Outside of classes, Stofle enjoys taking walks and traveling with her son. “It's pretty exciting being in a new city, because we get to discover a lot of things through working together.” While discussing her adventures with her son, Stofle became very passionate about the difficulty of discovery. “I think it's important for me to sort of show him that I can struggle with things. When we went to Spain last summer, he had to see me really struggle with my Spanish. And I think it's good for him to realize that, you know, no perfection is needed to try things.” Another example she gave was her recent trip ziplining with her son, during which her son discovered that he doesn’t actually like ziplining. Despite that, she thought the experience was beneficial for him. “Maybe he's not going to become a professional zipliner — which I think is not a job anyway — but maybe it will sort of inspire him to take more risks or to try things that he's passionate about.” 

While she was discussing her son in this particular instance, this advice can really be applicable to everyone. “No perfection is needed to try things,” Stofle noted. This is all-around good advice, but definitely a concept that many of us Reedies struggle with. 

Stofle later directly addresses the many Reedies that feel that they need to be doing more, learning more, studying more. “I know that we were told, coming in here, that there was this idea that there's a stress culture at Reed. And I think that a lot of students at institutions that are elite... tend to struggle with imposter syndrome. And I think if there's one piece of advice that I can give students is to actively keep telling themselves that they belong here.” She concluded her advice with a heartfelt recommendation to “treat yourself with compassion and kindness.”

However, when being told that students probably would like this bit of  advice better than her telling them to do all their reading, she did clarify what she meant. “Right, but also do all of your reading!”