Whether focusing on fairy tales, literature and medicine, or representations of World War I, Fisher's classes and writing aim to make sense of the twentieth-century "shock of the new, " the explosion of new technologies, experiences, and changing attitudes towards gender, race, class, and ethnicity which began before the Great War and echo to the present day. As creatures of habit, how have we human beings continued to find meaning, truth, beauty and love in a radically altered world? Do we always recognize it when we find it?
Socrates and Jung provide two major influences on Fisher's teaching. A few millennia ago Socrates humbly demonstrated the power of questions to analyze everything. Fisher's classes usually begin with complex questions, and questions also provide the basis for her teaching of writing. Having trouble formulating a thesis? Making a transition? Writing your conclusion? Use a question! Questions can make your writing more specific and increase your ability to communicate with your audience. Socrates was clearly on to a good thing.
Carl Jung motivated her to encourage students to pursue their own interpretations and research. Jung was a student of Sigmund Freud who broke with his teacher, deciding the dreamer ultimately had to be the one to interpret his or her own dream. Similarly, a liberal arts education empowers students to both dream and interpret their dreams. Fisher's work often consists of partnering with students as they make research decisions; we work together to make their ambitions realities.
Finally, bell hooks's words about education as an act of existential freedom are never far from her mind: "There is light in darkness; you just have to find it."
I. Joan Lorch Women and Gender Studies
"Teaching the 1918 Influenza Pandemic as Part of a World War I Curriculum." Teaching Options for Representations of World War I. Modern Language Association. New York: New York, 2017.
Review of On Being Ill by Virginia Woolf with Notes from Sick Rooms by Julia Stephen. Virginia Woolf Miscellany, 86, Fall 2014/Winter 2015, pp. 41-2.
Envisioning Disease, Gender and War: Women's Narratives of the 1918 Influenza Pandemic. Palgrave/Macmillan. New York and London, 2012.