2019–20 FacultyProgram Directors: Omar Cheta, Lauren Curtis, and Daniel Mendelsohn
Spring 2020 Faculty
|Matthew Amos||Miriam Felton-Dansky||Kassandra Miller|
|Franco Baldasso||Peter Gadsby||Alys Moody|
|Jim Brudvig||Donna Grover||Peter Rosenblum|
|John Burns||Cole Heinowitz||Oli Stephano|
|Omar Cheta||Erica Kaufman||Kathryn Tabb|
|Lauren Curtis||Lisa Krueger-Chandler||Drew Thompson|
|Ziad Dallal||Stephanie Kufner||Bill Walker|
|Bill Dixon||Daniel May||Cecelia Watson|
|Nesrin Ersoy McMeekin||Chris McIntosh||Mary Grace Williams|
Co-Director of First-Year Seminar, Assistant Professor of Middle Eastern and Historical Studies
Omar ChetaOmar Cheta is Assistant Professor of Middle Eastern and Historical Studies at Bard College. Born and raised in Alexandria, Egypt, he studied economics and Middle Eastern history in Cairo, Chicago and New York before joining Bard in 2013. He is currently writing a book on law and capitalism in Egypt on the eve of the British occupation. In addition to FYSEM, Omar teaches courses on the social histories of law and capitalism, revolutions, slavery, and historiography, in relation to the Ottoman Empire and the modern Middle East. As a historian with interests in the colonized world and methodology, he is especially excited to participate in designing and directing Bard’s common course, which affords him an ideal opportunity to read and teach outside of his immediate area of expertise — that is, to practice the liberal arts.
Co-Director of First-Year Seminar, Associate Professor of Classical Studies
Lauren CurtisLauren Curtis is Associate Professor of Classical Studies at Bard College. Originally from the North of England, she has lived in the US for thirteen years and has taught at Bard for the past six. She has taught FYSEM regularly since she arrived at Bard, and is excited to be back as one of the three faculty co-directors of the program. Prof. Curtis’ research focuses on the ‘live’ performance practices of the Greek and Roman worlds that we can now only glimpse in fragments, especially theater, music and dance. She especially enjoys teaching introductory courses that help students discover what makes the ancient past come alive for them – whether through language, literature, or cultural history. You can usually recognize Prof. Curtis from the small and naughty terrier, Vinnie,that she is often walking around campus – neither of us bite, please come up and say hi!
Co-Director of First-Year Seminar, Charles Ranlett Flint Professor of Humanities
Daniel MendelsohnDaniel Mendelsohn, a writer and classics scholar, was born on Long Island, studied at U.Va. and Princeton, and has taught at Bard since 2006 as the Charles Ranlett Flint Professor of Humanities. A memoirist, essayist, and literary and cultural critic who frequently contributes to such publications as The New Yorker and The New York Review of Books, where he is Editor-at-Large, he writes often about the impact of the classics on contemporary and pop culture; on gay identity and culture; and on family history and the Holocaust. His scholarly specialty is Greek tragedy and Homeric epic. Sometimes, his lives as a working writer and as an academic come together in interesting ways: one spring semester at Bard, he taught Homer’s Odyssey to a group of students that included his 81-year-old father—an illuminating and sometimes hilarious experience that he recorded in his award-winning memoir An Odyssey: A Father, a Son, and an Epic (2017).
Visiting Assistant Professor of French
Matthew AmosMatthew Amos is Visiting Assistant Professor of French at Bard College. Having grown up in Colorado, California and Texas, he studied French in New York and Paris, specializing in 20thcentury avant-garde philosophy and narrative. He has taught FYSem every semester since coming to Bard in the fall of 2014, in addition to courses on death, the dialogue between antiquity and modernity, the “why” behind different forms of literature, the history of French thought and culture, and diverse levels of French language. His recent research centers around comic literature, especially the novel.
Assistant Professor of Italian
Franco BaldassoFranco Baldasso is Assistant Professor of Italian at Bard College, where he started teaching in 2015. His main research interests are 20th and 21st century literature, art and intellectual history, the complex relations between Fascism and Modernity, what they mean for us today, and the idea of the Mediterranean as a place of encounters, in which for centuries different peoples and civilizations met, clashed and lived in war and peace. He is from Venice, a city where the signs of different traditions and intermingling cultures are easy to see yet difficult to grasp. Teaching FYSEM is for him a fascinating tour through the streets and shortcuts of ancient and modern invisible cities, where unexpected encounters can enrich our search for truth and foster the sense of marvel for the world we all share.
Professor of Philosophy
Jim BrudvigSince 1991 when I joined Bard College, I worked in various administrative capacities, including most recently being the Vice President for Finance and Administration, Chief Financial Officer. This summer I joined the faculty as a full-time member of the philosophy department. Such a change may seem out of the ordinary, but my educational background sort of explains most of it: prior to arriving at Bard I had an MBA with a finance emphasis, and a Ph.D. in Philosophy with special interest in philosophy of mind and early modern philosophy. I have always mixed teaching and administrative duties during my time at the college, and now I’m very excited to be able to give my full-time attention to FYSEM. Welcome to Bard College! I look forward to meeting you.
Visiting Associate Professor of Spanish
John BurnsJohn Burns is Visiting Associate Professor of Spanish Studies at Bard College. Originally from Maine, he has lived in Chile and Spain and recently spent a semester teaching in Japan. He is interested in literature and literary translation, with a specific focus on contemporary Latin American poetry. He has written about experimental writers from Chile and Mexico and the ways in which their work intersects with politics and history. He is excited to teach FYSEM for many reasons, but perhaps most of all because he still remembers how important the texts that comprise the course were to him as a young man and how they continue to resonate with him many years later.
Visiting Assistant Professor of Arabic
Ziad DallalZiad Dallal is Visiting Assistant Professor of Arabic at Bard College. Originally from Beirut, Lebanon, he earned his BA from AUB in English Literature, and his Ph.D. from New York University in Comparative Literature. Ziad's areas of research/interest include modern Arabic literature and intellectual history, critical theory, translation theory, political philosophy, postcolonial theory, philology, Marxism, finance, and film theory. He is currently writing a book on Civilizational Discourse in nineteenth-century Arabic Literature. He has also written about contemporary Arabic theater and contemporary music in Lebanon and served as lead advisor and translator on This Is Home: A Refugee Story, a 2017 Sundance Film Festival Audience Award winner for world cinema documentary. In addition to FYSem, Ziad teaches courses on Arabic Literature and Language. At Bard since 2018.
Director of the Language and Thinking Program
Bill DixonBill Dixon is the Director of the Language and Thinking Program. He also teaches political theory and American politics in the Political Studies Program. Bill has taught at Bard since 2010. His current research interests include democratic theory, theories of citizenship and political action, political economy, cosmopolitanism, and climate change. Some of the political thinkers who interest him most include Thucydides, Lucretius, Machiavelli, Rousseau, Marx, Nietzsche, and Walt Whitman. He thinks of FYSEM as one of the most challenging and rewarding courses at Bard, in large part because of the deep connections that students often make between FYSEM, Language and Thinking, and Citizen Science. He is excited to be reading Rousseau’s “Discourse on the Origin of Inequality” with students in FYSEM and thinking through the difficult questions that the text inevitably raises about contemporary democracy in the United States.
Visiting Instructor in the Humanities
Nesrin Ersoy McMeekinNesrin Ersoy McMeekin is a Visiting Instructor in the Humanities at Bard College. Born in Bulgaria, and emigrated to Turkey as a child, Nesrin has taught at Bard for the past six years. She has taught FYSEM each term since she arrived, and she has been teaching a version of it at Bard Early College Hudson since Fall 2017. Nesrin's research focused on Turkish-Bolshevik relations during 1917 to 1930s, and she is interested in Turkish emigration-mainly from the Balkans to Modern Turkey- after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. She enjoys teaching FYSEM and having lively conversations on our texts.
Assistant Professor of Theater and Performance
Miriam Felton-DanskyMiriam Felton-Dansky is Assistant Professor of Theater & Performance at Bard College. She is a critic and scholar of contemporary performance, writing particularly about experimental and interdisciplinary work that challenges the boundaries of the art form. For nine years, she was a theater critic for the Village Voice, and she now writes occasional theater criticism for Artforum, the Brooklyn Rail, and other publications. At Bard, she teaches courses covering the full scope of theater history, from Greek tragedy to classical Japanese Noh to the early twentieth-century European avant-gardes. This is her fifth time teaching FYSem, and she has always enjoyed the opportunity to work with students across all fields of study at Bard. Come visit her office on the first floor of the Fisher Center for the Performing Arts, and feel free to ask her for a theater recommendation on-campus or off-campus this spring.
Peter GadsbyPeter Gadsby has been at Bard College since 1991, and is delighted to return to teaching fysem after a hiatus of 8 years. He taught regularly in the program from 1995 to 2011. When not teaching you can find him toiling at his "regular" job as registrar of the college, a position he has held since 1998.
Visiting Associate Professor of Literature and American Studies
Donna GroverDonna Ford Grover received a Ph.D. in literature from CUNY Graduate Center. She teaches literature and American Studies at the College and is one of the founding faculty in The Bard Prison Initiative. Her interests include 19th century American popular culture, Spiritualism and American and Caribbean women’s literature. She has published both fiction and nonfiction, most recently with an essay in the anthology, Strange Attractors: Women’s Lives Changed by Chance (University of Massachusetts Press, 2016).
Associate Professor of Literature
Cole HeinowitzCole Heinowitz is Associate Professor of Literature and Director of the Literature Program at Bard College. Born and raised in San Diego, California, she moved to the east coast to pursue a PhD in comparative literature at Brown University in 1995. After earning her doctorate, she taught for one year at Dartmouth College before finding her intellectual home at Bard, where she has taught since 2004.Cole’s teaching, writing, and research focus on poetry, poetics, and performance from the Romantic period to the present, with an emphasis on Britain, Latin America, and the U.S. In addition to her work as a poet and scholar, she is also active as a literary translator (recent publications include collections by Alejandra Pizarnik and Mario Santiago Papasquiaro) and as a noise musician. As a former co-director of First-Year Seminar (2013-16), Cole is thrilled to be teaching in this new incarnation of Bard’s common course.
Director of the Institute for Writing and Thinking
Erica KaufmanErica Kaufman is the Director of the Bard College Institute for Writing & Thinking and Visiting Assistant Professor of Humanities. Born in Bloomington, IN and raised in Brooklyn and Staten Island, NY, she taught in the Language & Thinking Program for several years before moving upstate full-time in 2013. Prof. Kaufman is the author of three books of poetry, the most recent of which, POST CLASSIC, is a queer reimagining of Homer's Odyssey. Her research focuses on the connection between contemporary American poetry/poetics and the writing and reading experiences of first-year college students. Prof. Kaufman is always excited to work with and write with first-year students, particularly in the context of FYSEM, where we explore what it means to live inside the language of seminal texts with contemporary eyes.
Visiting Artist in Residence, Film and Electronic Arts
Lisa Krueger-ChandlerLisa Krueger is a writer/director of fiction films. Her work has been screened in movie theaters across the U.S. and abroad and tends to center on characters whose vision of themselves in the world puts them at odds with reality. In 2016 Lisa came to Bard as a visiting artist-in-residence to teach screenwriting and directing. She was immediately drawn to FYSEM as a way to sharpen and broaden her voice as a filmmaker, by taking a deeper dive into the cultural well we all draw from. Because she is discovering many of the FYSEM texts alongside her students, her classes tend to be intensely group driven and interactive. This year she is especially excited about the new curriculum with its emphasis on stories and characters as conduits to the Big Questions that are at the heart of the FYSEM adventure.
Visiting Associate Professor of German; Academic Director and Coordinator, Center for Foreign Languages and Cultures
Stephanie KufnerStephanie Kufner is Visiting Associate Professor of German Studies at Bard College. Originally, from Germany, she has lived in the US for almost 35 years and came to Bard in 1990. She has taught FYSEM regularly for over 10 years, and is excited to be part of this year’s new FYSEM team and curriculum. Prof. Kufner enjoys teaching intensive language and culture classes on various levels, German literature and theater, and for many years helped students produce bilingual German/English theater plays. In her role as Academic Director of the Bard Language Center, Prof. Kufner hires an international staff of up to 20 students. They help provide the Bard Community with a wide range of carefully researched academic, cultural and popular language resources, study- and self-evaluation tools, as well as course –specific supplements for learners on any level in all languages taught at Bard. Do stop by any time to say hi or if interested apply for a job!
Visiting Lecturer in Jewish Studies
Daniel MayDaniel May is completing his PhD at Princeton University, with concentrations in Modern Jewish Though and Religion, Ethics and Politics. His work explores the relationship between national and religious belonging, and the nature of political ethics in a world in which politics is generally considered to require a “realistic” appraisal of the compromises required of public life. His research and teaching commitments emerge out of more than a decade of experience in community and political organizing, from tenant organizing in the South Bronx to immigrant work in East Los Angeles to several years organizing on behalf of a progressive Jewish voice on matters related to Israel and Palestine.
Assistant Professor of Political Studies
Chris McIntoshChristopher McIntosh is an Assistant Professor of Political Studies who works on the intersection of contemporary global politics, political violence, time, and critical/poststructural international theory. Originally from Marietta, Georgia, he has studied at and received degrees from the University of Georgia, Georgetown, and the University of Chicago. He is currently working on a book that argues how we understand time and choose to relate past, present, and future play a crucial role in the practice of politics. Beyond FYSEM, he teaches courses on time and political violence, gender, global ethics, sovereignty and war, terrorism, nations and nationalism, security, and international relations. He has taught FYSEM since 2010.
Visiting Assistant Professor of Classical Studies
Kassandra MillerKassandra Miller is excited to join Bard's faculty as Visiting Assistant Professor of Classical Studies. Previously, she taught in the Classics department at Union College, just up the river in Schenectady, NY. Prof. Miller received her B.A. in Classics and Creative Writing from Princeton, and completed her graduate work at Oxford (M.Phil.) and the University of Chicago (Ph.D.). Her research focuses on ancient science, medicine, and magic, and she is particularly interested in how ancient peoples conceptualized and measured time. Prof. Miller looks forward to meeting you and hopes you will stop by Aspinwall to say hello!
Assistant Professor of Literature
Alys MoodyAlys Moody is Assistant Professor of Literature at Bard College. She was born and raised on the Mid-North Coast of New South Wales, Australia, in the hills outside a town best known for its large concrete banana. She lived and taught in Australia, New Zealand, the UK and France, before coming to Bard in 2019. Alys’s research looks at twentieth-century literature as an international undertaking, and particularly (for better or worse) at the way literature has engaged with histories of hunger and starvation in the twentieth century. In addition to FYSEM, she teaches courses on world literature, global modernism, decolonisation, and hunger. In her teaching and her research, she sees literature as part of a larger history of ideas and culture, and she is excited about FYSEM’s ability to help us think creatively about ideas and their history. And as a new faculty member, she is looking forward to getting to know Bard with and through its incoming first-year cohort.
Professor of International Law and Human Rights
Visiting Assistant Professor of Philosophy
Oli StephanoOli Stephano’s research and teaching interests span Continental philosophy, Spinoza, environmental philosophy, and feminist and queer theory. His recent research addresses ethical questions through immanence: that is, considering how individuals and communities are rendered more or less capable of flourishing on the basis of how they affect and are affected by one another. Dr Stephano’s current book project extends this inquiry to ecology, turning to Spinoza to develop an “immanent ecological ethics” that bases its normative claims in how ecosystemic bodies affect one another’s flourishing, in line with the ethical task of aligning human striving with ecological coexistence. Recent publications have appeared in journals including SubStance, Hypatia, and Environmental Philosophy.
Assistant Professor of Philosophy
Kathryn TabbKathryn Tabb is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Bard College. She received her PhD in History and Philosophy of Science from the University of Pittsburgh, along with an MA in Bioethics and Health Law, and also studied at the University of Chicago and the University of Cambridge. She is interested in the history and philosophy of madness, especially in the history of British philosophy, and is writing a book on John Locke’s theory of irrationality. She is also interested in the practical side of medical ethics, especially in issues of distributive justice, and in philosophical questions about moral responsibility, blame, and punishment. She teaches broadly in the history and philosophy of science and the history of philosophy, as well as the medical humanities. This is her first time teaching FYSem, and she’s really looking forward to it!
Assistant Professor of Africana and Historical Studies
Drew ThompsonDrew Thompson is a writer and visual historian who works as Assistant Professor in Africana and Historical Studies and Director of Africana Studies at Bard College. He recently authored Filtering Histories: The Photographic Bureaucracy in Mozambique, 1960 to Recent Times (Forthcoming from the University of Michigan Press). His writings on contemporary art have appeared in leading popular art journals, including Contemporary and Photograph, Foam, Mail and Guardian, and the blog Africa Is A Country.
Bill WalkerBill Walker is at the Levy Economics Institute of Bard College where he directs Library and Research activities. He is currently involved in working closely with the Masters students there, especially in the writing and editing of their theses. Prior to coming to Bard, Bill worked in Professional and Reference Publishing in NYC for over 25 years as a writer, editor, and Publisher.
Language and Thinking Program
Cecelia WatsonCecelia Watson is a nonfiction writer, and a historian and philosopher of science. She has led many lives in many places, zipping from Memphis to Annapolis to Chicago to Berlin to New Haven to London--teaching, writing, researching, and curating-- but all the while regularly returning to Bard's Language & Thinking faculty, in which she's taught as often as she's been able to since 2007. Her research and teaching interests are broad, and she therefore finds endless delight and inspiration in teaching core curricula like FYSEM. Although she enjoys pulling on the threads that connect a wide and varied selection of texts, she also likes to dig deep into small things: her first book was a biography of the semicolon.
Chaplain, Dean of Community Life, Vicar of St. John the Evangelist Episcopal Church
Mary Grace WilliamsThe Rev. Mary Grace Williams, Chaplain of the College/Dean of Community Life, came to Bard in 2016 excited to work with college students. She received her B.A. from Rutgers University where she studied Theater Arts (Acting and Directing) which led her to move to NYC directly after college to pursue a career in theater. While living in the West Village, she rediscovered her deep interest in spirituality and religion and that inspired her to do a M.A. in Religious Education from Fordham University. Eventually this led her to seek ordination as an Episcopal priest and she attended Yale Divinity School and earned a M. Div. Mary Grace is a single mother of two adopted daughters, one of whom is currently attending Bard College.