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  About Us Bio of Dr. Joanna Hubbs

Biography of Dr. Joanna Hubbs

President and Senior Editor of Transitions Abroad Publishing, Inc.

Joanna Hubbs
Joanna Hubbs in Nice, France

Dr. Joanna Hubbs, a European who has traveled extensively since her birth 76 years ago, is the president and senior editor of, and has been helping select and edit copy for the website since 2007 after the passing of her late husband, Dr. Clay Hubbs, the visionary founder and publisher of Transitions Abroad magazine in 1977.

In 2006 she retired as professor of Russian cultural studies at Hampshire College where she had taught since 1971 after completing her Ph.D. at the University of Washington. She received a prestigious Woodrow Wilson fellowship to pursue her doctoral studies.

Though offered teaching positions by many of the most prestigious traditional institutions of higher learning in the country upon completion of her Ph.D. in Russian Studies, Joanna was drawn to maverick Hampshire College due to its very strong stated commitment to free speech and social activism within the unique context of the 5-college consortium in Amherst, Massachusetts. Hubbs was one of the first faculty members hired at the college to help build a community of teachers and students—an environment in which learning, discussion, and debate would go on easily and continually, formally and informally, in the classroom and out.

Hubbs has written on topics ranging from alchemy to Russian folklore and literature. Her book Mother Russia: The Feminine Myth in Russian Culture is an interpretive study of Russian history from prehistoric times to the present. For her work, Joanna received the 1989 Heldt Prize for Excellence from the Association for Women in Slavic Studies.

Professor Hubbs taught courses at Hampshire designed to challenge students to think deeply and beyond the superficial by using their imaginations. She taught everything from great novelists such as Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Chekhov, Gogol, Turgenev, Bulgakov, and Pushkin, to Russian Cultural History, Russian Film and Literature, the Persistence of Myth in Literature, Modernism and Film, and the French Enlightenment.

Joanna was married for 48 years to former Air Force jet pilot, journalist, professor and study abroad advisor Dr. Clay Hubbs, who left Hampshire College to found, publish, and edit Transitions Abroad magazine. The couple lived and traveled all over the world, most often as nomads, and their son, Gregory Hubbs, continues to enhance and expand upon the award-winning website—which has been inspired by family and independent travel over the course of more than 73 of her 77 years.

Joanna was born and raised in Europe, spent her several years in England where she created mayhem in "finishing schools," still was allowed to meet the Queen, lived 10 years in Switzerland having neighbors such as Charlie Chaplin (whose kids she played with) in Vevey on the Lake of Geneva in her teens (Editor's note: she absolutely does not know and nor would she wish her son to drop a fraction of the names of the many famous people she knew and knows well, that her son regards her as the most intelligent, widely educated, and sophisticated human being he has ever met, nor what a fabulous French and Italian cook she is).

Joanna speaks, reads, and writes in five languages fluently. She has lived long-term on Italy, France, Switzerland, England, both coasts and central states of the U.S. She has traveled slowly and long-term in countries and regions such as Russia, Central and Eastern Europe, the Balkans, most every Mediterranean and Scandinavian country, Northern Africa, the Middle East, and many locations in North and Central America—not including the countless countries she has visited for shorter periods during the course of cross-continental trips.

Hubbs has written two novels (including A Russian Affair), and is working on a third about the French visionary poet and adventurer Arthur Rimbaud, whose voyages through Africa she retraced years before he became fashionable, and about whom she has written a poem below. Joanna has also published short stories in Europe. She plans to continue her fiction writing, poetry, and autobiography in retirement, in addition to continual travel, an insatiable appetite for reading, learning, discussion, and yes, even debate! Joanna tempers her intellectual intensity with other pursuits of interest such as art, classical and folk music, dance, French and Italian cooking, fine dining of all kinds, and a love of great conversation.

Joanna will continue to divide her time between Amherst, New York City, and Italy—where she owns a very modest hilltop watchtower in a lovely 12th century Tuscan village located between Siena and Florence, with a small and very hospitable population of locals and interesting expats from around the world.

Dr. Hubbs is presently involved in selecting and editing articles while judging writing contests for, helping to continue to steer the editorial direction towards what she finds interesting and informative. To contact her or for interviews, please email her at

Selected Articles by Joanna Hubbs for Transitions Abroad
Slow Food in Tuscany
Off the Beaten Track in Florence
Affordable Paris: Rent an Apartment Then Have Your Cake and Eat it Too
Beyond Venice: Soaking Up the Wine, Cooking, and Culture of the Friuli
Travel to Eat: The Traditional Food Found in the Langue Region of Italy
Il Theatro Minimo in Florence, Italy: Amy Luckenbach's Magic Show Goes on the Road
Cooking in Tuscany: Hands-On Lessons in La Cucina Tradizionale
Book Review of Rome:The Second Time
Letter from Ethiopia: Visitors to Africa's "Best-Kept Secret" Receive Rich Rewards
Selected Poem(s)


He drifts along in reverie
On a raft made up of words.
Carried on a Dolphin’s back,
His thoughts soaring like birds.

Yet sailing on a chartless sea
He’s thrown on a stony shore
For even as a well made raft
Words only drift so far.

Onward ever he must quest
In lands farthest from home
To finds there savage rhythms
That he can make his own.

 Bare desert lands now tempt him
Like sirens calling out,
Words giving way to wanderings
Promising what he’s sought:

A language without phrases
A place where mind can roam
To reach unreachable spaces
Where he could dwell alone,

In a vibrating universe
hearing its soundless whirl,
That leads to oceanic rhymes
Like sands in desert swirl.

© Joanna Hubbs. PhD

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