Mihai Stroe

Fulbright Scholar, 2006-2007


Studying at Yale University, New Haven,
In the Framework of the Fulbright Advanced Research Program
A Personal Experience

To have the experience of Yale University in the framework of the Fulbright Advanced Research Program is to have the chance to enter an academic and human labyrinth of epic proportions, in which you can easily get confused as in an 'infodrome' echoing with virtually all the languages of the world, old and new, sacred and profane, poetic and scientific and religious. My Fulbright experience meant literally the chance to dive into a sweeping swirl of information and experience, into a most intricate maze of culture and science and civilization, all of which Yale University and Princeton University can provide the researcher with. I also had the chance to establish a friendly relationship with a reputed professor, maybe one of the best literary critics alive, Harold Bloom of Yale and New York University. The title of my project is "Towards a Science of Paradigms: Paradigm Shifts in Literature and Science from the Romantic to the Postmodern Age", and it has been conceived of as a contribution for establishing paradigmology as a metascience in its own right, based on Heisenberg's and Koestler's concept of a 'Pendulum of History'. Also, one of my major interests has been the further extension of Thomas Kuhn's theory about scientific revolutions as paradigm shifts to the field of literature, each revolution being decoded in this perspective as a swing of the historical pendulum. Also, I had the wonderful chance to get support from another remarkable Yale personality, Professor Paul Fry, who was my supervisor and whose works excel in the study of Wordsworth, Coleridge, romanticism in general, and literary theory.

During my stay at Yale I had the chance to visit the labyrinthine courses of Professor Harold Bloom, who is a genuine master of the labyrinth of literature and the humanities, being the perfect guide for the students who thus get initiated into the endless intricacies of meanings of texts in their revisionary state of total immersion in endless chains of contexts within contexts within contexts, for ever. Several times I contributed in Harold Bloom's courses with discussions regarding especially William Blake's works and my own project of translating Blake's complete works into Romanian, but also regarding the romantics' works in general. I cannot emphasize enough the warm atmosphere that professor Bloom created in his courses (enhanced by his authentic sense of humour), although, it is true, often the students were very shy to answer, probably intimidated by their teacher's high intellectual stature and the very legend that he also represents for the academia. Also, I had a great experience as visitor of Professor Paul Fry's course on literary theory, delivered in a perfectly beautiful and friendly lecture room located in Linsley Chittenden Hall: a dizzying adventure into the fundamental critical thought. Worthy of notice is Professor Fry's great power to synthesize the most important elements of criticism and place them in the wider context of humanistic studies.

Also, one must mention the work in Sterling Memorial Library: a monumental establishment of culture and civilization (with over 6 million volumes), hosting Yale students and scholars who come here to study from the remotest places of the world, just to have a chance to experience the great variety of sources of documentation. A similar building, located quite close to Sterling Memorial Library, is the famous Beinecke Library, in which one can see original manuscripts such as the Gutenberg Bible, but also such rare documents as Blake's Book of Urizen. Also overwhelming about Yale University is the hospitality of all people involved in the academic system (I am referring, for instance, to the Yale International Center for Students and Scholars, to the staff in charge of the student dormitories, etc). Of great help in your activity here is the unfailing electronic system of the libraries; you quickly become aware that any potential document that you might need or want is just a click away.

Also, my Yale-Fulbright experience became important for me because of a special event: Yale University invited me to participate in a competition for the New York Academy of Sciences Blavatnik Award for Young Scientists. I was thus nominated by my supervisor Prof. Paul Fry of Yale University, and supported in this nomination by Prof. Esther Schor of Princeton University - to both of whom I express my gratitude. Even tough I have not been selected for the finals, I was elected to membership in The New York Academy of Sciences, which again constitutes a wonderful honour and opportunity for me to get to know the international scientific community. As a member, of course, I intend in the future to keep close contact with The New York Academy of Sciences. Also, I must mention my Princeton experience which became possible as an extension of my Fulbright programme: I had the great chance to work in the Princeton Rare Books Department, being able to study rare documents in the Einstein and Godel Archives. The work in this special place changed very much the way in which I understand biography and writing biography, since it made me aware of the endless intricacies of academic, scholarly and scientific experiences/fields.

In short, my Fulbright experience has been ground-breaking, and I have already incorporated many of the resources I obtained during my Yale and Princeton research into my own courses of lectures, the feedback from the students being astonishingly good: one of my optional courses - the one that bears the title of my Yale-Fulbright project - has gathered together no less than over one hundred students, which for me constitutes solid proof concerning the vivid interest raised by the matters tackled there. Also, I intend to soon publish a first version of my Fulbright project as a course of lectures (I also intend to include here some of the best contributions by my students).

As regards advice to professors/scholars who might want to apply for a Fulbright Scholarship: I warmly recommend the Fulbright Programme in its entirety as one of the best academic experiences possible; I would, however, advise caution in one regard: never plan to arrive in your academic campus by night, you might get in trouble. Also, always double-check your flight arrangements when leaving, to make sure that the several segments of your flight configuration are fully operational. Also, make sure you buy the best photo digital camera available on the market, because, given the huge amount of information available, you will not be able to xerox-copy everything. Digital data is by the way much easier to handle, once you got past the technological inherent barriers in using complex digital devices. Also, make sure you get the best out of the electronic systems: JSTOR is a wonderful source of information, available in general to all on campus. Also, always go to conferences on campus, it will be the best opportunity for you to get to know wonderful people, who can further support your projects, and whom you can support in the case that they might wish to establish connections with your home institution.

My fulbright experience

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Students at the advising center

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Romanian-U.S. Fulbright Commission

Adress: 2 Ing. Nicolae Costinescu Street, sector 1, Bucharest, Romania
Phone: 021.230.77.19
Fax: 021.230.77.38
E-mail: office@fulbright.ro

Fulbright Educational Advising Center

Phone: 021.231.90.15
E-mail: feac@fulbright.ro

 Public hours

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 Wednesday: 1:00 PM - 5:00 PM
 Thursday: 1:00 PM - 5:00 PM