Humanities Professor Cristina Ruotolo will spend the coming school year in Ghana after winning a Fulbright scholarship.
At University of Ghana in Legon, Ruotolo will study Ghanaians’ relationship to American literature and culture.
“By teaching and co-teaching courses in American literature at the university, I hope to learn from my students and colleagues about the ways in which American literature resonates for contemporary West Africans, both in terms of what they are reading, and how they are reading it,” says Ruotolo, who serves as director of San Francisco State’s School of Humanities and Liberal Studies.
She also plans to explore South and West African responses to American and African American popular music. Hiplife, a blend of hip hop and highlife, is one of the latest trends in contemporary Ghanaian music.
“What interests me, whether I’m focused on literature or music, is thinking about how the works, styles and genres identified as ‘American’ are understood, appropriated and re-appropriated by audiences and artists elsewhere,” she says. “What is this ‘American-ness’ for them?”
At San Francisco State, Ruotolo teaches courses on American culture, music and society; literary and musical modernisms; literary and cultural theory; and the culture and history of New Orleans. Her scholarly work has focused on music’s place in American cultures and imaginations. Her first book is Sounding Real: Musicality and American Literature at the Turn of the 20th Century (University of Alabama Press, 2013).
A violinist and chamber musician, Ruotolo holds a master’s degree in music performance from the New England Conservatory. She received her Ph.D. in English literature from Yale. She joined San Francisco State in 1997.
The Fulbright Program, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, is the federal government’s flagship international exchange program. Since its inception in 1946, the Fulbright Program has provided more than 380,000 participants with the opportunity to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns. The Core Fulbright Scholar Program offers nearly 470 teaching, research or combination teaching/research awards in more than 125 countries.
— Matt Itelson