Bio

Adjunct Assistant Professor, Liberal Arts (2005).


Experience at SAIC

I have come to define the ultimate goal of my teaching in terms of helping my students expand their capacity for developing and communicating complex ideas expressed in the form of cogent and philosophically innovative arguments. These paired skills—of appreciation and analysis on the one hand, and the ability to communicate one's own original thoughts on the other—are, I believe, among the most important habits of mind I can impart to my students. In order to arrive at this goal, I encourage my students not only to challenge one another's arguments and to provide textual evidence in support of their own, but also to grapple with new ideas, helping each other develop new theories and insights into full-fledged analysis. I am aware that I demand a great deal of my students in this regard by stressing in-class participation and by subjecting their papers to detailed critiques. However, I actively strive to make my classroom a sympathetic environment in which students feel comfortable taking intellectual risks.


Personal Statement

It is the central aim of my teaching to encourage students to study philosophy as a discipline interacting with and responding to developments in literature, history and the arts and to engage students in the pleasure and challenge of reading humanistic works. I am deeply committed to attracting students to the study of philosophy and literature, by bringing to life the thrill of reading new works, and the intellectual rewards to be gained from immersing oneself in a new discipline. As my curriculum vitae shows, I have extensive teaching experience both as a Lecturer at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago as well as at the University of Chicago, demonstrating my dedication to liberal arts education. I have drawn on some of the larger themes that inform my work as well as on the interdisciplinary strengths of my research to guide me in my approach to teaching. I have tried to bring my passion and excitement for making connections across disciplines to help engage students in a close reading of philosophical and literary texts, by placing them in a larger context, while advancing the standards of excellence in each field.


Current Interests

My enduring interest in the subject of memory and remembering has been engendered in large part by the first hand experience of migration and the life-long process of mourning the loss of one's homeland. As a Jewish refugee from the former Soviet Union I have been on familiar terms with the experience of displacement and nostalgia. In my intellectual attempt to construct a framework for making sense of the experience of displacement I have turned to the German concept of "heimat". While heimat is a highly charged, ideologically laden word, I prefer it to the Russian concept of "rodina". Unlike rodina, which literally connotes one's place of birth, heimat involves a series of interconnections; spatial, temporal, linguistic which captures a sense of kinship and belonging that transcends the merely geographical. Perniciously misused by the Nazis for political purposes during the Third Reich, the concept of heimat captures the prerequisite membership in the "we" predicated on one's acceptance into the community of others. In addition, the concept of heimat is inextricably linked to the concept of "heimweh" which connotes a loss of home, be it through displacement, migration or exile that carries with it a sense of loss, longing and a sense of a diminished self that follows that separation. As a professor of Philosophy and Literature at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago I have turned on multiple occasions to the subject of memory, displacement and exile in both my research and my teaching. My philosophical background in the German Romantic tradition led me to engage intellectually with modern problems of alienation and the dual stance towards the self. In response to the modern crisis of the subject and of moral experience, that rendered them metaphorically homeless the Romantics sought to privilege art and aesthetic reason in interpreting their world. In my research I turned to the work of Marcel Proust to help me investigate the role of art as a legitimate response to the modern experience of individual and collective alienation. In addition to completing my PhD at the University of Chicago I had the privilege of conducting research in Paris made possible by a grant from the Chateaubriand Fellowship. Since then I have shared my work at a number of national and international conferences as well in the context of my teaching at SAIC.

 

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