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Q&A with Dean Brian Reed

April 2019
Brian Reed, Divisional Dean of the Humanities (portrait)

Meet Brian Reed, Divisional Dean of the Humanities and Professor of English. In addition to being a past Rhodes and Fulbright Scholar, Dean Reed has degrees from Harvard, Oxford and Stanford. He is a poetry lover with an affinity for bird watching.

We caught up with Dean Reed for a short Q&A.


1. What book(s) are you currently reading?

I am reading Ha Jin’s biography of the T’ang Dynasty poet Li Po. It’s lyrical and compelling, and it brings vividly to life imperial China of a thousand years ago.

2. Favorite poem or poet?

I’m often asked if I have a favorite poem. I do—but it’s different every day. Today I’m partial to Christopher Smart’s “My Cat Jeoffrey.” “For he is a mixture of gravity and waggery….”

3. What’s your favorite bookstore? Coffee shop?

My favorite coffee shop was the old Vivace, which used to face Cal Anderson Park. You could sit at tables topped with Italian marble, quaff a white velvet, and feel completely at peace.

4. What’s the best library you’ve ever visited?

Duke Humphries Library. While studying history at Oxford University, I would periodically go stand in it, gawk at its beauty, and dream about the five centuries of undergraduates who had visited the place before me.

5. What’s the story of your hat?

I bought my hat at Floriade, a spring flower festival in Canberra, Australia. It was made by a haberdasher from the Australian state of Victoria, and it is made from Scottish tweed.

6. What’s your favorite – and maybe most underrated – place on campus?

The UW Medicinal Herb Garden. I’ll escape there on warm days to read poetry and listen to birdsong.

7. What’s your best bird sighting on campus?

My favorite bird sighting: Watching Anna’s Hummingbirds out my window in the Deans Office.

My favorite birdsong you’ll hear on campus: the even quick trill of the Dark-Eyed Junco.


*Q&A originally posted on the College of Arts & Sciences social media channels as part of a faculty feature series in spring 2019.