2021–22 FacultyProgram Director: Daniel Mendelsohn
Co-Director, First-Year Seminar; Charles Ranlett Flint Professor of Humanities
Daniel MendelsohnCo-Director, First-Year Seminar; Charles Ranlett Flint Professor of Humanities
Daniel 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).
Co-Director, First-Year Seminar; Visiting Assistant Professor of Italian
Karen RaizenCo-Director, First-Year Seminar; Visiting Assistant Professor of Italian
Karen Raizen is Visiting Assistant Professor of Italian at Bard, where she started teaching in 2017. Her main area of interest is Italian opera and theater of the 17th and 18th centuries, and she is currently working on a project on the clown character Pulcinella. She has also written on the 20th-century Italian intellectual figure Pier Paolo Pasolini. In addition to teaching Italian, Karen has taught courses at Bard in music and gender and sexuality, and is excited to bring these areas into dialogue with the FYSEM texts. She is also a former violist and current amateur ukulele player, and enjoys both viola jokes and ukulele jokes.
Assistant Professor of Italian; Director, Italian Studies Program
Franco BaldassoAssistant Professor of Italian; Director, Italian Studies Program
Franco 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.
Peter Sourian Senior Lecturer in the Humanities
Thomas BartschererPeter Sourian Senior Lecturer in the Humanities
Thomas Bartscherer returns to Annandale from a half-year in Berlin working on a new edition of Hannah Arendt's The Life of the Mind. At Bard, he is the Peter Sourian Senior Lecturer in the Humanities and teaches classes in literature, philosophy, classics, politics and human rights. His interests include literature and philosophy in antiquity; the reception of ancient thought in the modern world; and the history and practice of liberal education. He's currently co-editing a collection of essays, When the People Rule: Popular Sovereignty in Theory and Practice. He also writes for performance: his opera Stranger Love, created with composer Dylan Mattingly, premiered in a concert performance in 2018. Prof. Bartscherer has a PhD from the University of Chicago, has held fellowships at the École Normale in Paris and visiting positions as Associate Professor at Vanderbilt University and as Senior Fellow at the Freie Universität's Center for Advanced Film Studies. He was born on Long Island.
Jewish Chaplain; Visiting Assistant Professor of Humanities
Joshua BoettigerJewish Chaplain; Visiting Assistant Professor of Humanities
Joshua Boettiger, who begins this Fall at Bard as Jewish Chaplain and as a Visiting Assistant Professor of Humanities, is a Bard alum who has an MFA in Poetry (Pacific University, 2018) and a Masters in Hebrew Letters/rabbinic ordination (Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, 2006). He is a Rabbis Without Borders fellow, and is also the Associate Rosh Yeshiva at the Center for Contemporary Mussar – where he teaches text, theology, and practice of Jewish approaches to mindfulness and service. He is excited to be back at Bard and to be part of the FYSEM journey.
President of the College; Leon Levy Professor in the Arts and Humanities
Leon BotsteinPresident of the College; Leon Levy Professor in the Arts and Humanities
Leon Botstein, conductor, music historian, and leader in education reform, has been president and Leon Levy Professor in the Arts and Humanities of Bard College since 1975.
Professor of Philosophy
Jim BrudvigProfessor of Philosophy
Since 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. Last 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 BurnsVisiting Associate Professor of Spanish
John 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.
Language and Thinking Program
Rachel CavellLanguage and Thinking Program
Rachel Cavell teaches in Bard’s Language and Thinking Program, and is a Faculty Associate with Bard’s Institute for Writing and Thinking. She teaches Essay and Revision at Bard, and writing and Civics at the Bard Prison Initiative. She has worked with faculty development at Bard-Smolny College (St. Petersburg State University in St. Petersburg, Russia), and has taught in the Bard Masters in Teaching Program. Rachel is also a writer, with recent publications in the Adelaide Literary Journal; an attorney, and a practitioner of Restorative Justice. She is very excited to be discussing, thinking and writing about the great texts in First-Year Seminar.
Visiting Assistant Professor of Arabic
Ziad DallalVisiting Assistant Professor of Arabic
Ziad 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, Language and Thinking Program
Bill DixonDirector, Language and Thinking Program
Bill 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.
Associate Professor of Philosophy
Jay ElliottAssociate Professor of Philosophy
Jay R. Elliott is Associate Professor of Philosophy, director of the Thinking Animals Initiative and an affiliated faculty member in Classical Studies and Medieval Studies. Originally from Tucson, Arizona, he received a BA in Philosophy and Art History from New York University and a PhD in Philosophy from the University of Chicago. Since arriving at Bard in 2013, he has regularly taught FYSEM, as well as courses in ancient and medieval philosophy, ethics, and political philosophy. His research and teaching interests include: conceptions of character in philosophy, psychology and the arts; the causes and remedies of individual and collective ethical failure; the history of philosophical communities, traditions and practices; and the shifting landscape of human-animal relationships. One of his favorite parts of life at Bard is teaching FYSEM, especially the opportunity it offers to work with a diverse group of students and colleagues from across the college.
Visiting Instructor in the Humanities
Nesrin Ersoy McMeekinVisiting Instructor in the Humanities
Nesrin 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 Sociology
Laura FordAssistant Professor of Sociology
Laura Ford is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Bard College. With a background in both law and sociology, Laura’s research and teaching interests include: law & religion; economic sociology; social theory; the history and development of intellectual property; and historical sociology. Laura loves teaching FYSEM, particularly the adventure of reading and thinking with texts, in dialog with students.
Visiting Assistant Professor of Humanities
Helena GibbsVisiting Assistant Professor of Humanities
Helena Sedláčková Gibbs was born in the former Czechoslovakia (now Czech Republic) and has lived in Tunisia and Brazil. She received her undergraduate degree from Columbia University and her Ph.D in Comparative Literature from New York University. Helena has taught at Bard since 2003, including three sections of FYSEM most years. Her main interests are literature, politics, and Freudian-Lacanian psychoanalysis. She has been a member of Après-Coup Psychoanalytic Association in New York City since 1989.
Assistant Director, Institute for Writing and Thinking
Michelle HoffmanAssistant Director, Institute for Writing and Thinking
Michelle Hoffman is the Assistant Director of the Bard College Institute for Writing and Thinking (IWT) and a Visiting Assistant Professor of Philosophy. In addition to FYSem, Prof. Hoffman teaches courses in the history and philosophy of science. At IWT, her work focuses on writing-to-learn pedagogy in math and science. She is interested in how writing interfaces with learning, cognition, and problem-solving. Her academic research focuses on the history of transfer of training research in educational psychology. Experimental research in transfer of training, which reaches back to the turn of the 20th century, aims to determine how—and to what extent—learning skills acquired in one area transfer to other domains, a question that strikes at the core of how we understand teaching and learning.
Visiting Artist in Residence
Lisa KatzmanVisiting Artist in Residence
Lisa Katzman is an Artist-in- Residence in the Film and Electronic Arts Department. As well as teaching FYSEM this fall, she will be co-teaching (with director Charles Burnett) a screenwriting workshop in which students will explore the adaptation of mythic and folkloric narratives to the screen as they develop their own short screenplays derived from such material. During her undergraduate years at Bard, Katzman studied literature, with an emphasis on modernist poetry and mythology. In graduate school she pursued these interests, as well as film studies. As a film critic and journalist Katzman’s has written for many publications about a broad range of subjects. Her documentary film work includes the films TOOTIE’S LAST SUIT and 9/11’s UNSETTLED DUST. She has always considered the study of classical world literature foundational to her work as a writer and filmmaker, and is excited to explore the texts we will be reading this semester in FYSEM.
Assistant Professor of Art History and Visual Culture
Alex KitnickAssistant Professor of Art History and Visual Culture
Alex Kitnick is Assistant Professor of Art History and Visual Culture at Bard. He graduated from Wesleyan University where he majored in something called the College of Letters (which is kind of like a very long FYSEM). He later went on to earn his Ph.D from the Department of Art & Archaeology at Princeton University. His scholarly focus is on modern and contemporary art, primarily in the US and England. A particular interest of his is artist writings and art criticism. Alex is an active critic himself, and his writing has appeared in publications including Artforum and October. He has also contributed to many museum exhibition catalogs. His first book is currently under contract with University of Chicago Press.
Visiting Associate Professor of German
Stephanie KufnerVisiting Associate Professor of German
Academic Director, Center for Foreign Languages and Cultures; Coordinator, Foreign Languages and Literature Program
Stephanie 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 Associate Professor of Religion
Hillary LangbergVisiting Associate Professor of Religion
Hillary Langberg is Visiting Assistant Professor of Hindu Studies at Bard. Her current research centers on goddess traditions in South Asian religions, with a particular focus on the intersections of gender and agency. She also holds an M.A. in Indian art history, and investigates rock-cut cave sculptures from the sixth-to-seventh centuries CE. Hillary has a life-long love of writing and has taught first-year Rhetoric and Writing at the University of Texas at Austin and served as a consultant at the University’s writing center. Prior to earning her Ph.D. in Austin, she lived in the Bay Area for 15 years and studied Sanskrit and art history at UC Berkeley. She now enjoys beautiful hikes in the Hudson Valley with her pup Leilani.
Jana Mader is currently a Lecturer in the Humanities. With a background in German studies/comparative literature, her research and teaching interests lie in 19th + 20th century German and European literature and philosophy, German romanticism, nature writing, landscape art, environmental humanities, and creative writing. Prof. Mader was born in Germany and has been writing and teaching in the US since 2012. She came to Bard in 2019 from the University of North Carolina. Her first novel was published in 2017 and her most recent book, an anthology on spaces of thinking was published by Rowohlt in 2020. Prof. Mader is currently pursuing a PhD in German and American literature (focusing on writers of the Hudson Valley, among others) at the University of Munich and is working on her second novel.
Visiting Instructor of Music
Franz NicolayVisiting Instructor of Music
Franz Nicolay is a musician and writer. In addition to records under his own name, he was a member of cabaret-punk orchestra World/Inferno Friendship Society, “world’s best bar band” the Hold Steady, Balkan-jazz quartet Guignol, co-founded the composer-performer collective Anti-Social Music, was a touring member of agit-punks Against Me!; and recorded or performed with dozens of other acts. He studied music at New York University and writing at Columbia University (where he was awarded a Felipe P. de Alba Fellowship). He received fellowship residencies in composition at the Rensing Art Center and writing at the Ucross Foundation and the Edward F. Albee Foundation, and he has taught at Columbia University and UC–Berkeley.
His first book, The Humorless Ladies of Border Control: Touring the Punk Underground from Belgrade to Ulaanbaatar (The New Press, 2016), was named a “Season’s Best Travel Book” by The New York Times; and Buzzfeed called his novel forthcoming Someone Should Pay For Your Pain was called a “knockout fiction debut." His writing has appeared several anthologies and in publications including The New York Times, Slate, The Paris Review, The Kenyon Review, Ploughshares, the Los Angeles Review of Books, Threepenny Review, LitHub, Longreads, and elsewhere.
Visiting Assistant Professor in the Humanities
Noah SegalVisiting Assistant Professor in the Humanities
Noah Segal is a Classicist and Roman Historian. Originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, Noah previously received his BA in Classics and Ancient History from Ohio State University before earning his Ph.D. in Classics from UC Santa Barbara. His research focuses on the fluidity of values in the late Roman Republic, especially as it relates to the community’s valuation of military service in the face of noticeable change in aristocratic career activity and philosophical engagement. For the past two years he has served as a Lecturer in the Classics Dept at UCSB, teaching Ancient Greek, Latin, and courses in translation on a wide variety of subjects such as laughter in Greece and Rome, gender and sexuality, and Greek tragedy. Noah adores discussion-based classrooms and cannot wait to work with new students and colleagues.
Buddhist Chaplain, Visiting Asst. Professor
Tatjana Myoko von Prittwitz und GaffronBuddhist Chaplain, Visiting Asst. Professor
Returning from a three year leave of absence at a Japanese Zen monastery, I will come like you to a new world, engaging with a carefully chosen set of texts exploring existential questions. Step by step we are training how to listen, understand, comprehend – crucial qualities in an atmosphere of diversity. FYSem is a writing intensive course and special emphasis is therefore put on the art of essay composition. It is there that you can develop your unique voice as a scholar by sharing your interpretation. To make a statement of value means to be precise and visionary. Let’s cultivate together a mind of awareness that can transcend boundaries.
Buddhist Chaplain. At Bard since 1999. PhD in Comparative Literature. MA in Curatorial Studies.
Librarian, Levy Economics Institute
Bill WalkerLibrarian, Levy Economics Institute
Bill 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.
Assistant Professor of Literature
Daniel WilliamsAssistant Professor of Literature
Daniel Williams is an Assistant Professor of Literature at Bard College. He specializes in nineteenth-century British literature and culture and also works on the literature of contemporary South and Southern Africa. His interests include history of science and philosophy, environmental humanities, and law and literature.
Chaplain, Dean of Community Life: Vicar, St. John the Evangelist Episcopal Church
Mary Grace WilliamsChaplain, Dean of Community Life: Vicar, St. John the Evangelist Episcopal Church
The 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.