2020–21 FacultyProgram Directors: Omar Cheta, Lauren Curtis, and Daniel Mendelsohn
|Matthew Amos |
|Bill Dixon |
Nesrin Ersoy McMeekin
|Karen Raizen |
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 seven 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 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.
Peter Sourian Senior Lecturer
Thomas BartschererThomas Bartscherer returns to Annandale from a half-year in Berlin working on a new edition 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.
Professor of Political Studies and Human Rights
Roger BerkowitzRoger Berkowitz is Founder and Academic Director of the Hannah Arendt Center for Politics and Humanities and Professor of Politics, Philosophy, and Human Rights at Bard College. Professor Berkowitz authored The Gift of Science: Leibniz and the Modern Legal Tradition (Harvard, 2005; Fordham, 2010; Chinese Law Press, 2011). Berkowitz is editor of The Perils of Invention: Lying, Technology, and the Human Condition (2020) and co-editor of Thinking in Dark Times: Hannah Arendt on Ethics and Politics (2009), The Intellectual Origins of the Global Financial Crisis (2012) and Artifacts of Thinking: Reading Hannah Arendt's Denktagebuch (2017). His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The American Interest, Bookforum, The Forward, The Paris Review Online, Democracy: A Journal of Ideas, and many other publications. He is a co-editor of Just Ideas, a book series published by Fordham University Press. He is the winner of the 2019 Hannah Arendt Prize for Political Thought given by the Heinrich Böll Foundation in Bremen, Germany.
President of the College; Leon Levy Professor in the Arts and Humanities
Leon BotsteinLeon 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 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.
Language & Thinking Program
Rachel CavellRachel 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 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.
Professor of Religion
Richard DavisRichard Davis is Professor in the Interdisciplinary Study of Religion Program, and in Asian Studies. He has been teaching at Bard since 1997; previously he taught at Yale University. His main area of research is the history of Hindu religious traditions. He also works in Sanskrit language studies, and on issues pertaining to religious images and art. His courses at Bard have covered all aspects of Indian religions, from the ancient Vedas to Mahatma Gandhi and modern yoga. He is grateful for the opportunity that FYSEM offers to explore great readings together with new Bard students.
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.
Joseph E. Harry Professor of Modern Languages and Literature
Elizabeth FrankElizabeth Frank joined the Division of Languages & Literature at Bard in 1982. She has a PhD from the University of California at Berkeley, and teaches primarily American literature, with additional courses in Jewish literature, Russian literature, Balkan literature, and the study of poetry. She won the Pulitzer Prize in biography in 1986 for Louise Bogan: A Portrait (Knopf, 1985). In 2004 she published a novel, Cheat and Charmer (Random House), about the McCarthy period in Hollywood. She has written books about artists Jackson Pollock, Esteban Vicente and Karen Gunderson, co-translated Bulgarian novels to English, and continues to write fiction. She lives in New York City.
Bard Center Fellow
Stephen GrahamStephen Graham is a Bard Center Fellow with degrees from Harvard and Columbia University. His area of expertise is Victorian Studies, specializing in Victorian novels, George Eliot and Victorian poetry. His research interests include the history and methodologies of reading; 19th-century historiography; canon formation; fin-de-siècle British and French prose. He has taught writing, composition and British Literature at Bard since 2006.
Assistant Professor of Art History
Alex KitnickAlex 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 Religion
Hillary LangbergHillary 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.
Assistant Professor of Literature
Marisa LibbonMarisa Libbon is Assistant Professor of Literature at Bard College. A proud Californian, she came to the East Coast in 2012, after earning an M.Phil. in Medieval English Studies from Oxford University, and her M.A. and Ph.D. in English from the University of California, Berkeley. (Go Bears!) Prof. Libbon is a medievalist, and her research focuses on the literature and culture of medieval England, especially history writing, insular political relations, romance, saints’ lives, and the production, reading, and circulation of medieval manuscripts. Her book on medieval talk, rumor, and manuscript culture is due out in 2021. In addition to her interests in the very old, she also studies post-modern and contemporary poetry. At Bard, Prof. Libbon teaches courses in the Literature Program and Medieval Studies, and she looks forward to teaching FYSem for the fourth time this fall.
Visiting Assistant Professor of Film and Electronic Arts
Viktoria ParanyukViktoria Paranyuk is Visiting Assistant Professor of Film and Electronic Arts at Bard College, where she teaches film history. Her research centers on Russian and Soviet visual culture and cinema, global art film, theories of realism and modernism; broadly speaking, she is interested in the relationship between aesthetics and politics in art. She is currently working on a book about realism and the notion of sincerity in postwar Soviet cinema. Viktoria has contributed to the Women Film Pioneers Project and co-curated film programs at the Museum of Modern Art and Whitney Humanities Center at Yale University. She is thrilled to teach FYSem, to think about and discuss the seminar’s texts.
Visiting Assistant Professor of Italian
Karen RaizenKaren 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.
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.
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.
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.