Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
December 8, 2021

A weekend in the life of Sarah Harrison Smith

By HANNAH MELTON | October 27, 2016


COURTESY OF SARAH HARRISON SMITH Professor Smith instructs two courses this semester at Hopkins.

“What I most want to do on the weekend is grab some time with a book in bed,” Professor Sarah Harrison Smith said.

This semester, Professor Smith, the former managing editor at The New York Times Magazine,  is teaching two courses in the Writing Seminars Department: “Blogging about Food and Culture” and “Writing about the Arts.”

Her current weekend endeavor? A biography of the art critic John Ruskin, authored by Tim Hilton.

“I found it at the Little Free Library at Belvedere Square. I’ve been fascinated by it,” she said.

Smith harbors a deep interest in the Victorians’ ability to be productive.

“John Ruskin wrote over 250 books in his life,” she said. “The only child of two ambitious parents, his intellectual abilities were significant, but he put so much pressure on himself that he often had nervous breakdowns... [His biography] is a warning to myself as a parent and a professor.”

Spending a peaceful weekend reading is no easy feat for Smith. The mother of three often finds her weekends consumed by playing chauffeur.

“Family life is busy with sports and other activities,” she said.

Nevertheless,  Smith and her husband, David Yezzi, associate professor and department chair of Writing Seminars, still  manage to  attend some of Baltimore’s cultural events.

“My husband and I are both writers and editors,” she said. “My husband often wants to see opera at The Charles or a play if we can fit these treats between shuttling kids.”

From the sounds of it, Smith’s kids are hardly glued to their devices.

“Like most parents, negotiating screen time with our kids is a constant battle, but on weekends we give up the fight a bit to get a few extra hours of sleep or hanging-out time,” she said.

Some of her kids participate in the free music education program through the Baltimore School of Music and take advantage of this program on the weekend, but Smith says they also have to juggle it with soccer and cross country. If the day allows, the family goes for a swim at the University’s pool. With such a busy schedule comes winners and losers.

“At the moment, music is losing,” Smith said.

As far as autumn activities go, Smith is keen to go outside and see the fall colors.

“We’ve been meaning to go for a hike around Lake Roland,” she siad.  Unfortunately, Smith said  that her family’s busy schedule hasn’t given them a chance.

“In fall, there’s a lot of leaf work to be done in our garden. Sometimes we have unexpected outings when our dog escapes.”

Like Hopkins students, the Smith children spend plenty of time studying on Sundays.

“We always go out for dinner on Sunday night. It’s often the Dizz in Hampden, sometimes followed by the Charmery.”

Teaching a class on food blogging begs a fondness for culinary pursuits, and Smith doesn’t disappoint.

“I also love cooking for friends, and though it doesn’t happen every weekend we often have parties,” she said.

Her affinity for good food gives her authority in the classroom. She speaks knowledgeably about many cuisines and shares personal insights on various cookbooks.

“Having moved from New York to Baltimore a few years ago, we finally have a real dining room,” Smith said, “and I’m excited to use it.”

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