Who I Am

TL;DR: I’ve been teaching Latin, Greek and Sanskrit in the UK, the US and Germany for around 20 years, at a secondary school, at universities and online. I think reading ancient texts in their original language is the bee’s knees, and with my classes, my textbooks and my online materials I try to make this possible for as many people and in as non-elitist a way as I can.

But in case you do want the long version:

I grew up in lovely Frankfurt, Germany, then went to Cambridge in the UK to study Classics. This was an initially scary, but increasingly wonderful experience that, I feel, really taught me how to think on my feet. My first job after my PhD was as a lecturer in Latin, Greek and Sanskrit at Cornell University in the US. While I had learned Latin and Greek in a regular classroom setting, my Sanskrit was mostly self-taught. Having to find the answers to your questions yourself is time-consuming, but ultimately quite rewarding; and when I couldn’t find a suitable textbook to teach my students at Cornell, I put my experience to good use and wrote my own. The result, The Cambridge Introduction to Sanskrit, was published ten years later. It is the book I would have wanted to have when I learned the language.

My nine years at Cornell made me realise how much I loved teaching, and I decided to spend some time teaching at a secondary school: only when you can teach also those who don’t necessarily want to be taught are you really a teacher. I went back to the UK, and for four years, I taught Latin, Greek and Sanskrit at St James Senior Boys School just southwest of London. This opportunity not just to teach Sanskrit to boys from the age of 11 on, but also to help boys aged 17 or 18 to a truly decent command of Latin and Greek and Sanskrit was rare and really rather marvellous.

When the UK government abolished the A Level qualification in Sanskrit, the school cut Sanskrit teachers; and after a very welcome sabbatical spent fostering cats for the RSPCA and working on my next book, I embarked on a research position at Oxford. With the wonderful John Lowe as PI, the Uncovering Sanskrit Syntax project made use of the fact that large numbers of Sanskrit texts have been digitised by now, and can thus, with the right code, be searched for complex syntactical structures.

Brexit politics made life in the UK ever more unpleasant (it thus was successful in its aims); and so I made use of my extremely good fortune of having an EU passport: 22 years after leaving Germany (two years longer than Odysseus had been gone from home to fight in the Trojan War!), I went back. I have been teaching Vedic and Sanskrit, both language and literature, at two places since then: Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich and online at Yogic Studies. I have had (and have) utterly wonderful students at both, but keep being struck by the different attitudes that trad-ac and alt-ac take towards good teaching. For me, it is the most fundamental way both to express my respect for my students and to contribute to the strength and resilience (and continued existence) of my areas of academia.

I currently live in Munich and count myself supremely happy to make my living teaching ancient languages and literatures to wonderfully engaged students, splitting hairs (or in more official parlance: working as a freelance copy editor and proofreader) and translating.

My courses (and many wonderful other courses!) at Yogic Studies.
My views on teaching
Contact me if you are interested in private/small-group teaching.