Comparative Sociology Professor Denise Glover

Recently I spoke with visiting Professor of Comparative Sociology Denise Glover about her love of soccer, Asian culture and music, how she spends her time outside the classroom and how she came to teach at Puget Sound.
Where are you from originally?
Originally, originally I am from Westchester county, NY, but when I was about 10 my family moved close to Augusta, Maine.
I like to say I was born in New York but I grew up in Maine. I still have family there so I like to go back and visit in the summer.
How long have you been at Puget Sound?
Its my fifth year at Puget Sound. As a visiting professor I am in a non-tenured track position, so every year I am hired again on a yearly contract. Essentially it means I am not required to publish work, though I do, and I don’t have advisees.
What drew you here?
Previously I was in a Asian studies masters program in Hawaii with my husband, and then we came to Seattle so I could got to graduate school at the University of Washington in anthropology.
My husband had prospects for a job in the area so we ended up sticking around. After I got my doctorate at the University of Washington, and I was trying to stay in the area and found this job. I really like the size and philosophy of Puget Sound.
I had just come from a larger university and it made me appreciate a small, liberal arts school even more. Once I started working here I fell in love with the community, so I have stayed.
How did you come to focus your life’s work on Comparative Sociology?
I first got interested in Chinese Language. As an undergraduate I was studying musical composition at Bard College, and they had just started a Chinese language department so I looked into the program because I had become really interested in Asian philosophy so it seemed interesting.
I kept going with Chinese, moved to Hawaii to study Asian studies and from there I got started with Anthropology. It was a natural flow at the time, though I do look back occasionally and wonder how I got from one to the other.
Was there ever a plan B?
For a while I thought I might work in translation, but I learned more about it and found out from friends who work in that field in China, that it is incredibly high pressured work, so I decided against that.
There were a couple of other options along the way, like when I was in graduate school and considered working with nonprofits. But I got really hooked on learning so I stuck with it.
Biggest pet peeve in the classroom?
When students are not tuned into the class. Sometimes it means not doing the reading, and other times it is about them not caring about the class.
It is hard for professors because sometimes students do not care for the subject, and we do not know if it is the material or our teaching. You do not know how hard to work to accommodate student’s interests, if they are just there to fulfill a requirement. It is difficult.
Then again, you never know what impacts students. I have gotten emails from students who I taught years ago and did not think it had made a huge impact, who now years later have made some great connection with the course material.
Are you working on any scholarship at the moment?
I did some quick fieldwork in May. I brought my kids with me to China, where I have been working for a while now, but had not been back to the area since 2009.
The goal of the trip was to look at the changes in Tibetan Medicine since I first researched there about a decade before. I was specifically looking at the representation of Tibetan Medicine in a new museum they recently opened, which was very exciting. So I am working on compiling that research.
I also recently presented a piece on bringing your children with you when doing field research in China at a panel in San Francisco.
What is your favorite class to teach?
I just started to teach a class on Asian Medical Systems, which was terrific because it was new and on material that related to my own research, so I quite enjoyed that.
I teach Cultural Anthropology where we get to talk about a lot of different topics and cultures, and that is very interesting but it is not as closely related to my outside work.
I have also been teaching Indigenous People for a few years now, and it’s a very cool class, but it is a very hard class mostly because it tends to be very depressing. So Asian Medical Systems is at the top of the list.
Is there a class that you would like to teach in the future that you have not had the opportunity to thus far?
There is the possibility that I could teach a class on Linguistics Anthropology. I love teaching that class, and have before elsewhere, so I am working on proposing that for next year.
How do you spend your free time?
I have two kids, seven and fourteen, and a husband. So we spend tons of time together, especially in the summers when we get to be together 24/7. We travel, and go to the ocean.
I also am in a band and play a lot of music. We play a variety of different stuff, mostly acoustic, non-traditional blue grass stuff. So that takes a lot of time. I also love soccer, I watch my kids play and I love the Sounders.
What’s one thing your students don’t know about you?
I am a first generation college student. My parents did not go to college at the traditional time, though my father later in life ended up getting a BS, but I am the first to go at the traditional time and continue on to graduate school.