I began learning German at age 19, as a DAZ / DAF student at a language institute in Tübingen. I continued my studies in German, comparative literature, LGBT studies, and applied linguistics at Middlebury College (BA), the Johannes-Gutenberg-Universität, Mainz (year abroad), the University of California, Berkeley (MA and PhD), and at the Humboldt-University zu Berlin (Fulbright Dissertation Year). During that time, I completed work on my first two co-edited books (with Anton Kaes, Deniz Göktürk, and Andreas Langenohl), entitled Germany in Transit: Nation and Migration 1955-2005 (University of California Press, 2007) and Transit Deutschland: Debatten zu Nation und Migration (Konstanz University Press, 2011).
My first academic post, in 2008, was as a "Ziyaretçi Yardımcı Doçent" (Visiting Assisting Professor) at Bilkent University in Ankara, Turkey, where I taught in a “great books”-style curriculum for two years. After that, in 2010, I was supported by the American Council of Learned Societies as a New Faculty Fellow in the Department of German Studies at the University of Arizona, where I now hold the rank of Associate Professor with tenure. I serve as Director of Graduate Studies in the Department and coordinate our dual/joint doctoral program with the Herder Institut für Deutsch als Fremdsprache at the Univeristät Leipzig. I am a faculty member in the Interdisciplinary Doctoral Program in Second Language Acquisition and Teaching, and faculty adviser to the German Students Club.
Over the years, my research has been supported by many people and organizations, including the US National Endowment for the Arts, the Arts and Humanities Council of the United Kingdom Translating Cultures Programme, the US Departments of Education and of State (Foreign Language and Area Studies program), the American Research Institute in Turkey, the Confluencenter for Creative Inquiry, the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst, and the German Fulbright Commission. I consider my main fields of research to be applied linguistics and literary and cultural studies, with an emphasis on multilingualism and translating. Courses I have developed and teach regularly include Language and Power; The Task of the Translator; Thinkers and Dreamers; and The Multilingual Subject. My research and teaching have brought me in recent years to sites of learning and dialogue in Ghana, Luxembourg, Scotland, Belgium, Australia, Brazil, Poland, Italy, England, Canada, and of course Germany, where my favorite home-base city is Wuppertal.
My most recent book, The Invention of Monolingualism, was published in Fall 2016 with Bloomsbury. I am currently completing two co-authored books under contract, one on clinical conversations in end-of-life hospital settings among patients, families, physicians, and nurse practitioners (with Robert Gramling, deGruyter Mouton, 2018), and one entitled Linguistic Disobedience: Restoring Language to Civic Power (with Yuliya Komska and Michelle Moyd, Palgrave, 2018). My next monograph, under development, is titled: Into the Linguacene: Toward an Anthropology of Monolingualism. With Chantelle Warner, I have co-edited the interdisciplinary journal Critical Multilingualism Studies (cms.arizona.edu) since 2012. I am a working translator (mostly in the evenings!) and am committed to collaborative research with colleagues and students. My first doctoral graduate, Dr. Kyung Lee Gagum (PhD in Transcultural German Studies), has taken a faculty position at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. I am currently chairing three further doctoral dissertations in the Department.