Robert LaFleur

Academic Specialties and Other Interests

I am an anthropologist and historian, and I teach a wide variety of courses dealing with East Asia, from studying texts and discussing translations with students to living and studying on China’s sacred mountains. I have always been fascinated by how old books are alive for those of us who take them seriously, and I try to bring that excitement into the classroom every day.

When I am not hiking up a Chinese mountain or sitting with my nose buried in a text, I love to play chess, sample sushi and dimsum (not usually at the same time), and listen to country music and opera (more similar than one might think). Above all, I am passionate about cycling, and spend long hours on my road and mountain bikes, not to mention watching the professional cycling season with ardent enthusiasm.

I enjoy teaching at Beloit College, because it gives me the opportunity to convey not only the content of my courses to students, but, much more importantly, to try to broaden the discussion toward what all education must be about in the end—how we live our lives among others in a complex world. I enjoy advising for this very reason. Part of the challenge is, of course, to choose courses and fulfill requirements. In a much larger sense, though, a liberal arts education is about crafting a life, and I seek to help students begin to do just that.

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