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The Nobel Prize in Literature 

An interview with Dr. Andrew Klein

WIH is excited to introduce Professor Andrew Klein of Rice University as one of our newest literature professors. Dr. Klein is a former student of Dr. Terry Doody who taught literature classes at Rice University and The Women’s Institute for many years until his retirement in 2020. His scholarly shoes have been hard to fill, but we know Dr. Klein is up to the task! His first class here at WIH will tackle some of the recent Nobel Prize winners in literature, one per month. In his 2-hour classes, he will combine lecture and discussion, providing academic context for each work. We asked Dr. Klein to answer a few questions for us so we could get to know him a little better…

WIH: Welcome! We are thrilled to have you join us this semester. I’ve got a few questions for you to get a peek at what your students can expect from you. After proposing this class, what was the main thing you hoped your students would take away from it?

Dr. Klein: I’m thrilled to teach at the WIH! I’ve heard great things about the students. I think the main thing that I want people to leave this course with is an appreciation for the wide variety of forms that literature has taken around the world, whether that’s Svetlana Alexievich’s documentary literature, Alice Munro’s short stories, or even Bob Dylan’s songs. 

The term literature contains so much more than just the traditional novel (although it certainly contains that too!) and I hope that this course will excite students about other literary forms of writing and the global traditions they are part of.

WIH: Why choose Nobel Prize winners? Is there something in particular for you that distinguishes this award from others?

Dr. Klein: I chose Nobel Prize winners due to a curiosity about global perspectives. Most of my courses at Rice focus on American literature and culture. Most of my personal reading does too. What excites me about the Nobel Prize is that each year’s selection is radically different from the last and radically different from what I usually read. The award helps guide me to new voices, new places, and new traditions that I otherwise might never have known about. 

WIH: We love sharing our favorite shows in the office. Are you binging anything good on TV right now?

Dr. Klein: I’m currently watching “The Bear” and re-watching “Treme.”

WIH: Nice! What do you consider the best restaurant or cuisine in Houston?

Dr. Klein: My favorite meal (at the moment) is the Vegan Pho at Simply Pho in Midtown. 

WIH: We will have to check that out. With so many great options in Houston, recommendations are a must. Now, back to books – what is your favorite book of all time? 

Dr. Klein: Either John Steinbeck’s East of Eden or Franz Kafka’s The Trial.

WIH: Great picks! Dogs or cats?

Dr. Klein: I have a cat but I’ve always wanted a dog. 

WIH: Congrats on not bending to the “pandemic dog” adoption pressure! 
When you aren’t reading or working on scholarly pursuits, what do you like to do in your spare time? 

Dr. Klein: Most of my spare time is spent in parks with my daughter Natalie (2). When I’m not doing that, I’ll try to go for a run or get in a quick jam session on either guitar, keys, or drums.

WIH: It sounds like you have a great work/life balance. Well done!  But before we go, one more question to help settle one of the great debates of our time: do beans belong in chili?

Dr. Klein: Yes. They absolutely do.

WIH: I hope that doesn’t stir up too much controversy with our Texan-born students. We can’t wait to get Dr. Klein in the classroom and learn more! 

The Nobel Prize in Literature begins Tuesday September 06, 2022 at 1:00 PM and meets monthly through December.