2020–21 FacultyProgram Directors: Omar Cheta, Lauren Curtis, and Daniel Mendelsohn
Spring 2021 Faculty
|Matthew Amos |
|Ziad Dallal |
Nesrin Ersoy McMeekin
|Kathryn Tabb |
Tatjana von Prittwitz und Gaffron
Mary Grace Williams
Co-Director of First-Year Seminar, Assistant Professor of Middle Eastern and Historical Studies
Omar ChetaCo-Director of First-Year Seminar, Assistant Professor of Middle Eastern and Historical Studies
Omar 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 CurtisCo-Director of First-Year Seminar, Associate Professor of Classical Studies
Lauren 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 MendelsohnCo-Director of 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).
Visiting Assistant Professor of French
Matthew AmosVisiting Assistant Professor of French
Matthew 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 BaldassoAssistant Professor of Italian
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.
Visiting Assistant Professor of Sociology
Cary BeckwithVisiting Assistant Professor of Sociology
Cary Beckwith is Visiting Assistant Professor of Sociology at Bard College. His current research investigates how migrant workers adapted to the living and working conditions they encountered during the shale oil boom in North Dakota. He received a PhD in sociology from Princeton University and a BA in philosophy from Amherst College.
Assistant Professor of Literature
Alex BensonAssistant Professor of Literature
Alex Benson, Assistant Professor of Literature, was born on Long Island and has lived in California and Minnesota. Before coming to teach at Bard, he received both his BA in Rhetoric and his PhD in English from UC Berkeley. He writes about American fiction and poetry of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, focusing on questions of voice, race, the nonhuman environment, and old media.
Bard College President
Leon BotsteinBard College President
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.
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 received her B.A. in English Literature from Harvard University. 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.
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.
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.
Director of the Institute for Writing and Thinking
Erica KaufmanDirector of the Institute for Writing and Thinking
Erica 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.
Assistant Professor of Literature
Peter L'OfficialAssistant Professor of Literature
Peter L’Official is an Assistant Professor of Literature at Bard College, where he is affiliated with American Studies, Environmental and Urban Studies, Experimental Humanities, and Africana Studies. He teaches courses in African American literature and culture, twentieth- and twenty-first century American Literature, and is interested in how literature, cities, and architecture intersect. His first book, Urban Legends: the South Bronx in Representation and Ruin, was published by Harvard University Press in July 2020.
Professor of Comparative Literature
Joseph LuzziProfessor of Comparative Literature
I’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 Spring 2021!”
Assistant Professor of Political Studies
Chris McIntoshAssistant Professor of Political Studies
Christopher 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.
Associate Professor of Literature
Matthew MutterAssociate Professor of Literature
Matthew Mutter teaches American literature, culture, and intellectual history from the eighteenth century to the present. He has particular interests in philosophy and literature; religion, secularism, and modernity; international modernism; American cultural criticism; and the relation between the humanities and the social sciences. His first book, Restless Secularism: Modernism and the Religious Inheritance was published by Yale University Press in 2017. His essays and reviews have appeared in English Literary History, Twentieth Century Literature, Arizona Quarterly, Modernism/Modernity, Common Knowledge, The Hedgehog Review, and Marginalia. His current research ranges from the metaphysical imagination in J.M. Coetzee’s late fiction to the engagement of American novelists and poets with the burgeoning cultural authority of the social sciences in the twentieth century. This latter work will become a book-length study that ranges from T.S. Eliot’s criticism of explanatory paradigms in early anthropology to controversies among Black American writers in the later twentieth century about the novel as form of sociology. He has recently completed an essay on James Baldwin and Margaret Mead, which frames their book-length dialogue, A Rap on Race, as a struggle between poetic thinking and social-scientific discourse for moral authority.
Professor of International Law and Human Rights
Assistant Professor of Philosophy
Kathryn TabbAssistant Professor of Philosophy
Kathryn 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!
Michael ThickeVisiting Professor
Mike Thicke is a Visiting Faculty member of Bard College. He has taught First Year Seminar regularly since 2013 with the American University of Central Asia, Bard College, and the Bard Prison Initiative. Professor Thicke’s research concentrates on social epistemology (the study of knowledge and belief in social contexts) and philosophy of science. In addition to First Year Seminar, he teaches courses in epistemology, philosophy of economics, science fiction and philosophy, and history and philosophy of climate science. He also develops software and is currently working on a system for managing online museums using the WordPress platform.
Assistant Professor of Art History
Olga TouloumiAssistant Professor of Art History
Olga Touloumi is at her happiest thinking and writing about space and politics. She comes from Greece but has lived in the US since 2004, digging into archives and getting lost inside libraries and their corridors. For her philosophy and critical theory is the only way of living the examined life, which is also the reason why she enjoys teaching FYSEM and dwelling on big questions together with her students.
Buddhist Chaplain, Visiting Asst. Professor
Tatjana 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.
Associate Professor of Russian Studies
Olga VoroninaAssociate Professor of Russian Studies
Olga Voronina is Associate Professor of Russian. She is a Nabokov scholar who has also written on Russian cultural memory, literature and politics, cultural institutions, and children’s literature. At Bard, Prof. Voronina has been teaching such courses as “St. Petersburg: City, Monument, Text”; “Beyond Lolita: Nabokov and the Language of Desire”; "Nabokov's Shorts: The Art of Conclusive Writing"; “The Arc of Memory: Documentary Russian Prose”; and “Prismatic Encounters: Literary Afterlives of Russian Classics.” This is her third time teaching FYSEM, which she considers a magical tool for advancing students’ critical skills and fostering their ability to write with clarity and flair.
Artist in Residence
Jean WagnerArtist in Residence
Jean Wagner is an Artist-in-Residence in the Theater and Performance Program at Bard. She came to Bard in 2000. A Maine native, she now lives in Brooklyn. Jean received her B.A. from Wesleyan in Music and Literature and her master’s degree in Theater with a concentration in Directing from Smith. In 1993 she co-founded and was Artistic Director of Voice & Vision Theater, a theater company that produced theater by women and girls in New York City. She particularly enjoys working with playwrights on new plays. In addition to teaching FYSEM, she teaches classes in acting, dramatic literature and play development.--
Bill WalkerLevy Librarian
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.
Chaplain, Dean of Community Life, Vicar of St. John the Evangelist Episcopal Church
Mary Grace WilliamsChaplain, Dean of Community Life, Vicar of 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.