2019–20 FacultyProgram Directors: Omar Cheta, Lauren Curtis, and Daniel Mendelsohn
|Kellan Anfinson |
Nesrin Ersoy McMeekin
|Samantha Hill |
|Duff Morton |
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 earned her BA in Literae Humaniores (Classics) at University College, Oxford before moving to the US to complete a PhD in Classical Philology at Harvard University. She has taught FYSEM regularly since arriving at Bard six years ago, 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 classical languages, 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 hello!
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 Political Studies
Kellan AnfinsonKellan Anfinson received his doctorate in Political Science from Johns Hopkins University in 2015. He has taught at the University of Mannheim, Sciences Po, Johns Hopkins, and the University of South Florida. His research uses critical theory to analyze contemporary environmental problems. He is currently completing a project entitled The Ethos of the Event: Experimental Ethics under a Changing Climate. This book examines “the event” and its role in political life, with a focus on developing an ethos that could better attune us to an eventful world, which is today urgently marked by climate change. Such an ethos supplements scientific and policy visions of climate change by attending to the diffuse, complex, and momentous character of this event. To compose this ethos, he draws on Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Schmitt, and Foucault, who address different events ranging from the birth of Christ to the death of God and the rise of a fascist leader. This ethos connects us to a world of surprising and tragic events and enables the existential changes necessary to engage climate change.
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.
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 Studies
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.
Assistant Professor of Literature
Adhaar DesaiAdhaar Noor Desai is Assistant Professor of English Literature at Bard College, where he has taught classes on Shakespeare, poetry, and the nature of literary characters since 2014. Born in New Delhi, India, he became an avid fan of video games, science fiction, and “The Simpsons” soon after moving to America at the age of five. He went to college convinced he would become either a biologist or a physicist, but he found himself reading all of Shakespeare’s 38 plays in one semester and sealed his fate as a literary scholar. Now, he satisfies his scientist side by studying the intersections of imaginative thinking and scientific experiment, and he is glad to be on the steering committee of Bard’s Experimental Humanities concentration, which focuses on the relationships between technology, science, and human behavior. He is writing a book about how poets like Shakespeare felt about how they were taught to write, and he loves hearing his own students’ feelings about how they were taught to write, too.
Assistant Professor of Philosophy
Jay ElliottJay R. Elliott is Assistant 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 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.
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.
Assistant Director, Hannah Arendt Center for Politics and Humanities; Visiting Assistant Professor of Political Studies
Samantha HillSamantha Hill is the assistant director of the Hannah Arendt Center for Politics and Humanities and visiting assistant professor of politics at Bard College, and associate faculty at the Brooklyn Institute for Social Research in New York City. She is currently working on an edited and translated volume of Hannah Arendt’s Poems, writing a biography of Hannah Arendt, and a memoir about sexual violence. You can check out her essays on everything from Donald Trump and authoritarianism to love and #metoo here. She teaches courses on contemporary political theory, critical theory, affect theory, aesthetics, and the history of political thought.
Assistant Director of the Institute for Writing and Thinking; Visiting Assistant Professor of Philosophy
Michelle HoffmanMichelle 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 KatzmanLisa 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 Chinese
Lu KouLu Kou is Assistant Professor of Chinese at Bard College. Originally from Beijing, he received his BA in Chinese language and literature from Peking University. He moved to the U.S. in 2010 and completed his PhD in East Asian Languages and Civilizations at Harvard University. He taught at Williams College for one year before joining Bard in the fall of 2019. He is currently working on a book manuscript on court culture and diplomatic exchange in medieval China. Lu’s teaching interests include gender and sexuality in Chinese literature, science fiction, comparative medieval literature, and Chinese poetry and poetics. As a new member of the Bard community, he is very excited to participate in FYSEM and very much looks forward to embarking on the journey of reading and exploring with fellow travelers.
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
Stephanie KufnerAcademic 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 Music
Peter LakiPeter Laki, a native of Budapest Hungary, graduated from the Franz Liszt Academy (now University) of Music in 1979 and received his Ph. D. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1989. He served as Program Annotator of the Cleveland Orchestra from 1990 to 2005 and taught courses at Case Western Reserve University, Kent State University, John Carroll University and Oberlin College between 1990 and 2007. In 2007, he joined the faculty of Bard College in upstate New York as Visiting Associate Professor of Music.
Dr. Laki is the author of numerous musicological articles. He served as the editor of Bartók and His World, a collection of essays and documents published for the Bard Music Festival by Princeton University Press in 1995. He writes program notes for many orchesas and performing arts organizations around the country and has lectured at many international conferences. In September 2017, he was one of three keynote speakers at an international Bartók symposium held in Budapest.
Professor of Comparative Literature
Joseph LuzziI’m a Professor of Comparative Literature at Bard, and have been teaching in the First-Year Seminar program for over a decade. My books include In a Dark Wood: What Dante Taught Me About Grief, Healing, and the Mysteries of Love, My Two Italies, A Cinema of Poetry: Aesthetics of the Italian Art Film, and Romantic Europe and the Ghost of Italy. I was Co-Director of FYSEM from 2009 to 2013 and look forward to sharing ideas with my new FYSEM class in Fall 2019!
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 Anthropology
Gregory Duff MortonGregory Duff Morton is an economic anthropologist and social worker. He studies the movements of money through Northeastern Brazil: the cash that migrant workers carry home in their pockets, the wages disbursed by the owners of coffee plantations, and the payouts that come from the world’s largest welfare program. Duff has a special interest in social movements on the left, and he spends much of his time wondering how groups of people can organize themselves to undo social inequality. A key example, for him, is the MST, Brazil’s landless movement, which brings small farmers together to occupy plantations. Duff is also concerned with the practical questions that social service providers ask themselves as they strive to help other people. These issues are never distant from FYSEM texts, which always make Duff wonder: who are we and how should we live with each other?
Associate Director for Library Writing Support, Visiting Instructor of Writing
Jane SmithA doctoral candidate at the University of North Carolina, Jane is currently writing a dissertation on royalist print and politics in Interregnum England. A shortened version of one of the chapters, "The Commonwealth Cavalier," was published in Studies in Philology. She holds a master's degree in literature from the University of Missouri, where she also received her bachelor's degree, in English education.
Visiting Professor of Philosophy
Assistant Professor of Classics
David UngvaryDavid Ungvary is Assistant Professor of Classics at Bard College. Hailing from Buffalo, NY, he studied Classics at Duke University, the University of Oxford, and Harvard University before joining Bard in 2018. Prof. Ungvary is a literary historian whose current research centers on intersections of Christian asceticism and poetry in the Late Roman and early medieval worlds. He teaches courses in Greek and Latin language and literature, Roman cultural history, and late ancient religion. Through FYSEM, he is excited to join students as they discover the complexities of their own philosophies of literature – what it means and what is at stake when we read and write about specific texts. He also bakes for his students.
Librarian, Levy Economics Institute
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.
Dean of the Bard Early Colleges
John WeinsteinJohn B. Weinstein is the Dean of the Early Colleges for Bard College. In that capacity, he serves as the academic leader of Bard’s eight public early college campuses in the United States as well as international early college programs in China. Previously the Principal of Bard High School Early College – Newark, John is passionate about educational access, and his recent teaching has focused on expanding Chinese language instruction within African-American and Latinx communities. A scholar of Chinese and Taiwanese theater, John edited the translation volume Voices of Taiwanese Women: Three Contemporary Plays, and he has directed Chinese plays in both English and Chinese. He has recently published on figure skating as performance, drawing on his years as a competitive figure skater. John lives just over the Massachusetts border with his husband, Brian.
Associate Professor of Humanities; Coordinator, Gender and Sexuality Studies
Robert WestonRobert Weston holds a Ph.D. from Columbia University and serves as Continuing Associate Professor of Humanities at Bard College. He has enjoyed teaching FYSEM nearly every semester since arriving at Bard, and has served as co-director of the course. He helped build the Al-Quds Bard partnership in Palestine, where he served as Associate Dean, and he currently directs Gender and Sexuality Studies at the college. His areas of expertise include the philosophy, literature and culture of the European Enlightenment, the historical avant garde, post-structuralism, Marxist cultural analysis, gift theory, the history of sexuality, and the Frankfurt School. His current teaching focuses primarily on global issues of gender, sexuality, and race in the contexts of colonialism and human rights.
Assistant Professor of Literature
Daniel WilliamsDaniel 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 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.
Nora ZakiNora Zaki, Master of Divinity, a University of Chicago Divinity School graduate, is the Muslim Chaplain at Bard College. She is interested in Quranic and Islamic Studies, particularly Islamic ethics. She has studied Arabic in Fes, Morocco, Amman, Jordan and Cairo, Egypt and visited Algeria, Turkey, Palestine and Israel. Nora grew up in an interfaith household and culture that compelled her to think about her spiritual identity from an early age. She feels her calling is working in an academic environment that values introspection and social responsibility. Nora earned a Bachelor’s degree in Arabic, Religion, and Political Science at the University of Florida. She served as a chaplain at Dominican University in Chicago, was a volunteer chaplain at the Cook County (IL) Jail, and worked as a chaplain at Tampa General Hospital. Nora serves as the Muslim Chaplain at Vassar College, too.