WHC Executive Committee

Daniel Botsman (History)

Daniel Botsman is Professor of History. His interest in Japan spans the period from the seventeenth century to the present, with a particular focus on the social and political transformations of the nineteenth century. He was educated at the Australian National University and Oxford University and received his Ph.D. in history at Princeton. Before coming to Yale, he taught in the Faculty of Law at Hokkaido University and in the history departments of Harvard University and UNC Chapel Hill. His publications include Punishment and Power in the Making of Modern Japan (also published in Japanese under the more colorful title Chinurareta jihi, muchi-utsu teikoku—“Blood Drenched Benevolence and the Empire that Flogged”). 

After analyzing the evolution of penal practices and law during the centuries of samurai rule that preceded the Meiji Restoration of 1868, the book examines the rise of the modern prison system in Imperial Japan. In so doing it aims to illuminate the underside of the country’s “successful” modernization, while also revealing the deep connections between modern ideas about prisons, punishment, and civilization and the global history of imperialism. Botsman is also translator of the memoirs of Okita Saburō, one of the architects of postwar Japan’s “economic miracle,” and has recently coedited two collections of essays (in Japanese and English) responding to the Japanese government’s efforts to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Meiji Restoration in 2018.

Botsman’s current research interests include the history of caste and outcaste people (hisabetsu burakumin), animal-human relations (cow protection), and the impact of ideas about race, slavery, and emancipation in modern Japan. Together with Adam Clulow (UT Austin) and Xing Hang (Brandeis), he is part of an ACLS-funded research team exploring the large-scale trade in deerskin that developed between Japan and Southeast Asia in the seventeenth century. He also has a strong interest in urban history and has recently begun work on a new project about the history of Tokyo with collaborators in Japan and the US. 

Since coming to Yale, Botsman has developed a strong interest in the history of the university’s deep connections to East Asia. In 2015 he collaborated with Ed Kamens, Haruko Nakamura, and Kondō Shigekazu (University of Tokyo) to mount an exhibition of premodern “Treasures from Japan” held in the Beinecke. He also regularly teaches an undergraduate seminar called Yale and Japan, in which students explore the remarkable archival collections available in the Yale University libraries.

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Francesco Casetti (Humanities)

Francesco Casetti is Sterling Professor of Humanities and Film and Media Studies at Yale, where he also teaches as affiliated Professor at the School of Architecture. Visiting professor at Paris 3 La Sorbonne Nouvelle, at the University of Iowa, and at Harvard, and fellowships at the Otago University (Summer 2011), at the Bauhaus University-Weimar (Summer 2012), and at the at Freie Universtität Berlin (Fall 2019). In 2000, at Berkeley, he was awarded with the “Chair of Italian Culture” for an outstanding scholar.

He has largely written on cinema and visual media, in a perspective inspired by semiotics and cultural studies. After an expansive study on the implied spectator in film (Inside the Gaze, 1986/1999) and in television (Tra me e te, 1988), he combined in an original way close analyses of media texts and ethnographic research of actual audiences (L’ospite fisso, 1995), defining the notion of “communicative negotiations” (Communicative Negotiation in Cinema and Television, 2002). He has also written extensively on film theories (Theories of Cinema, 1945-1995—“Domenico Meccoli Award” for the best Italian book of the year in cinema). More recently he explored the role of cinema in the context of modernity (Eye of the Century: Film, Experience, Modernity, 2005/2008— “Maurizio Grande Award” for the best book of the year in cinema and media), and the reconfiguration of cinema in a post-medium epoch (The Lumière Galaxy. Seven Key Words for the Cinema to Come, 2015—Limina Award for the best International Book on Cinema).  His current research focuses on the early film theories, with a particular regard for the cinephobic stances in the first half of the 20th Century; and on a genealogy of screen that underlines its environmental aspects within our current “mediascapes.”

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Carolyn J. Dean (History)

Carolyn J. Dean is Charles J. Stille Professor of History and French.  She is a historian of modern Europe with a focus on the twentieth century whose work explores the intersection of ideas and culture. Her latest book, The Moral Witness: Trials and Testimony after Genocide (Cornell, 2019), traces the history of the witness to genocide, tracking the changing representation of mass violence over the last hundred years and showing how the cultural meaning of genocide was distinguished from war and imperial conquest. She is the author of five other books that focus on the historical and cultural representation of victims, most recently Aversion and Erasure: The Fate of the Victim after the Holocaust (Cornell, 2010) and The Fragility of Empathy after the Holocaust (Cornell, 2004). She has also written extensively about gender and sexuality in France and on the intellectual history of French theory. Her current project focuses on the history of bystanders during the Nazi Occupation of France.

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Verity Harte (Classics/Philosophy)

Verity Harte is the George A. Saden Professor of Philosophy and Classics and current chair of the Philosophy Department at Yale. Her research interests are primarily in the philosophy of Plato and Aristotle on a wide range of topics in metaphysics, epistemology, philosophical psychology, ethics and political philosophy.

She is the author of Plato on Parts and Wholes: the Metaphysics of Structure (Oxford 2002), of numerous specialized articles on topics in ancient philosophy, and co-editor of Aristotle and the Stoics Reading Plato (London 2010), Politeia in Greek and Roman Philosophy (Cambridge 2013) and Rereading Ancient Philosophy: Old Chestnuts and Sacred Cows (Cambridge 2017). Presently, she is working primarily on a monograph on Plato’s Philebus to appear in the series, Cambridge Studies in the Dialogues of Plato, and on her J.H. Gray Lectures, to be given in Classics at Cambridge in 2023.

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Noreen Khawaja (Religious Studies)

Noreen Khawaja specializes in nineteenth- and twentieth-century European intellectual history, and particularly on the shifting status of religious ideas and norms in late modernity. Her research examines the fate of metaphysics, the relation between critique and reform, the nature of realism, as well as the philosophical, historical, and aesthetic features of the secular. Her first book, on existentialism, The Religion of Existence: Asceticism in Philosophy from Kierkegaard to Sartre, was published with the University of Chicago Press in 2016. She is currently working on two major projects. The first is a monograph on the relation between theory and philosophy in the humanities, with particular focus on the study of religion. The other, longer work looks at the emergence of authenticity as a cultural ideal from the early Surrealists to the present day.

At Yale recent and upcoming courses include Existentialism, Critical Theories of Science and Religion, Authenticity, Problems of Secularization, Possession, Religion and Society, Martin Heidegger, Romance and Romanticism, The Surreal.

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Joseph Manning (History)

Joseph Manning specializes in Hellenistic history with particular focus on the legal and economic history of Ptolemaic Egypt. His interests lie in governance, reforms of the state, legal institutions, formation of markets, and the impact of new economic institutions (coinage, banking) on traditional socio-economic patterns in the ancient world. He is also deeply concerned with Papyrology, the interpretation of ancient sources, and bringing to bear the historical social sciences, particularly Economic Sociology and economic and legal theory, to ancient history.

He has published three monographs: The Hauswaldt Papyri. A Family Archive from Edfu in the Ptolemaic Period.  Demotische Studien, Vol. 12. Würzburg, 1997, Land and power in Ptolemaic Egypt. The structure of land tenure 332-30 BCE. Cambridge University Press, 2003, and The last pharaohs. Egypt under the Ptolemies, 305 – 30 BC. Princeton University Press, 2009 (appearing in October). He has also edited (with Ian Morris, Stanford University) a volume on economic history: The Ancient Economy: Evidence and Models. Stanford University Press, 2005, and Law and society in Egypt from Alexander to the Arab Conquest (330 BC-640 AD. Co-edited with J.G. Keenan & Uri Yiftach. Cambridge University Press. He is on the editorial boards of Studia Hellenistica (Leuven) and the Palgrave Studies in Ancient Economies.

Manning’s current research is situated at the intersection of Paleoclimatology and the economic history of the premodern world. He is particularly interested in ice core geochemistry, a very exciting and dynamic science. Manning is part of a small team that has been working on understanding the impacts of explosive volcanic eruptions on the Nile watershed.  The team has so far focused on the Ptolemaic period but plan on extending the study through Late Antiquity and examining the inter-regional impacts of climate change across the Mediterranean world, with particular focus on the Nile and Euphrates rivers.

Before coming to Yale, Manning taught for 12 years at Stanford University and two years at Princeton University. Manning is a Professor in both the Classics and the History Departments at Yale, and a Senior Research Scholar at Yale Law School. He is a collaborative member of Yale’s Program in Economic History. He received his B.A. from Ohio State, and his M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago.

Photo credit: Reno Venturi

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Priyamvada Natarajan (Franke Program in Science and the Humanities)

Priyamvada Natarajan, is the inaugural Joseph S. and Sofia S. Fruton Professor in the Departments of Astronomy and Physics at Yale University. She is a theoretical astrophysicist interested in cosmology, gravitational lensing and black hole physics. Her research involves mapping the detailed distribution of dark matter in the universe exploiting the bending of light en-route to us from distant galaxies. In particular, she has focused on making dark matter maps of clusters of galaxies, the largest known repositories of dark matter. Gravitational lensing by clusters can also be utilized to constrain dark energy models and she has been developing the methodology and techniques to do so. Her work has demonstrated that cluster strong lensing offers a unique and potentially powerful laboratory to test evolving dark energy models.

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Stephanie Newell (English)

Steph Newell is Director of Graduate Studies for the African Studies program at the MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies and a professor in the English Department at Yale. Her research interests include African print cultures, with particular attention to media audiences and readerships in colonial West Africa. She is the author of six books on West African literatures and cultural history, including, most recently, Histories of Dirt: Media and Urban Life in Colonial and Postcolonial Lagos. Her other monographs are Ghanaian Popular Fiction: ‘Thrilling Discoveries in Conjugal Life’, Literary Culture in Colonial Ghana, West African Literatures: Ways of Reading, The Forger’s Tale: The Search for Odeziaku, and The Power to Name: A History of Anonymity in Colonial West Africa

Her current project, Newsprint Worlds: Local Literary Creativity in Colonial West Africa, focuses on the central role of African-owned newspapers in creating platforms and publics for the earliest West African creative writers in English.

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Tavia Nyong'o (African American Studies/American Studies/Theater and Performance Studies)

Tavia Nyong’o is Chair and William Lampson Professor of Performance Studies; American Studies; African-American Studies; and Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies at Yale University. His books include The Amalgamation Waltz: Race, Performance, and the Ruses of Memory (University of Minnesota Press, 2009) and Afro-Fabulations: The Queer Drama of Black Life (New York University Press, 2018).

His current research interests include: the performative turn in museum curation; the racial reckoning in theater, dance, and performance; racial and sexual dissidence in art and culture; and the cultural history of the metaverse.

He is completing a short introduction to critical negativity in Black Studies under contract with the series American Studies Now (University of California Press), and continuing two additional book projects: i) a cultural history of race, sex, and gender in Downtown New York, post-war, and ii) a work for a general audience on the racial reckoning in theater in the twenty-first century.

Editor-at-large for the journal Social Text, Nyong’o is also on the editorial boards of TDR: A Journal of Performance Studies, Theatre, and Contemporary Theatre Review. He co-edits the Sexual Cultures book series at NYU Press with Ann Pellegrini and Joshua Chambers-Letson.

Nyong’o has received fellowships from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, the American Society for Theatre Research, the Ford Foundation, the Jacob K. Javits Foundation, and the British Marshall Foundation.

Since 2021, Nyong’o has also curated public programs at the Park Avenue Armory.

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John Peters (English/Film & Media Studies)

John Durham Peters is a media historian and theorist.  He is the María Rosa Menocal Professor in English and currently chairs the Program in Film and Media Studies, in which he is also appointed.  His most recent book, Promiscuous Knowledge: Information, Image, and Other Truth Games in History (2020) was co-authored with his late colleague and friend Kenneth Cmiel (1954-2006).  His other books, Speaking into the Air (1999), Courting the Abyss (2005), and The Marvelous Clouds(2015), were also published by the University of Chicago Press.  He’s working on a book on weather as a hidden key to modernity.

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Maya Prabhu (Medicine/Psychiatry)

Maya Prabhu is a medical doctor practicing in psychiatry and an international jurist in international health law and sustainable development. She is Associate Professor of Psychiatry in the Law and Psychiatry Division. In addition, Prabhu works with victims of international conflicts seeking political asylum through the Yale Center for Asylum Medicine and the Yale Institute for Global Health, and is the lead counsel for Health at the Centre for International Sustainable Development. As of 2016, Prabhu coleads the Yale Adult Refugee Clinic.

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Marc Robinson (Theater & Performance Studies/English)

Marc Robinsonis Malcolm G. Chace ‘56 Professor of Theater & Performance Studies and English. He is also Professor in the Practice of Dramaturgy and Dramatic Criticism at the David Geffen School of Drama. For 202223, he is acting chair of English. His books includeThe American Play: 1787–2000(Yale, 2009) andThe Other American Drama(Cambridge, 1994). In addition, he is the editor ofThe Myopia and Other Playsby David Greenspan(Critical Performances series, Michigan, 2012),The Theater of Maria Irene Fornes(Johns Hopkins, 1999), andAltogether Elsewhere: Writers on Exile(Faber and Faber, 1994). He is currently completingAll Images Too Static: American Performance in 1976,a study of Meredith Monk, Adrienne Kennedy, Cecil Taylor, Robert Wilson, and Elizabeth LeCompte. Robinson has been awarded the 2009 George Jean Nathan Award and the 2010 George Freedley Special Jury Prize (both forThe American Play), the 2012 Lambda Literary Award in Drama (forThe Myopia and Other Playsby David Greenspan), and the 2004 Betty Jean Jones Award for Outstanding Teaching of American Drama. He is a fellow of the New York Institute for the Humanities. 

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Maurice Samuels (Yale Program for the Study of Antisemitism)

Maurice Samuels specializes in the literature and culture of nineteenth-century France and in Jewish Studies. He is the author of four books. The Spectacular Past: Popular History and the Novel in Nineteenth-Century France (Cornell, 2004) examines new forms of historical representation—including panoramas, boulevard theater, and the novel—in post-Revolutionary France. Inventing the Israelite: Jewish Fiction in Nineteenth-Century France (Stanford, 2010) brings to light the first Jewish fiction writers in French. It won the Scaglione Prize, given by the Modern Language Association for the best book in French studies, and was translated into French (Hermann, 2017). The Right to Difference: French Universalism and the Jews (Chicago, 2016) studies the way French writers and thinkers have conceived of the place of Jews within the nation from the French Revolution to the present. It also won the MLA’s Scaglione Prize. His latest book, The Betrayal of the Duchess, a study of France’s first antisemitic affair, was published in 2020 by Basic Books. He also co-edited a Nineteenth-Century Jewish Literature Reader (Stanford, 2013) and edited Les grands auteurs de la littérature juive au XIXe siècle (Hermann, 2015). 

A recipient of the Guggenheim Fellowship and the Cullman Center Fellowship at the New York Public Library, he has published articles on diverse topics, including romanticism and realism, aesthetic theory, representations of the Crimean War, boulevard culture, and writers from Balzac to Zola. He has directed the Yale Program for the Study of Antisemitism since 2011.

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Gerald Torres (Yale School of the Environment/Law School)

Gerald Torres is Professor of Environmental Justice at the Yale School of the Environment and Professor at the Yale Law School. He is a former president of the Association of American Law Schools and has taught at Stanford Law School and at Harvard Law School, where he served as the Oneida Nation Visiting Professor of Law.

Torres served as Counsel to the Attorney General on environmental matters and Indian affairs at the US Department of Justice and has served on the board of the Environmental Law Institute, the EPA’s National Environmental Justice Advisory Council, and the National Petroleum Council. He is Board Chair of EarthDay Network and Founding Chairman of the Advancement Project, the leading civil rights advocacy organization in the country. He is a trustee of the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Torres has just been appointed to the Advisory Council of the Connecticut Sea Grant. He has also served as a consultant to the United Nations on environmental matters and is a life member of the American Law Institute and the Council on Foreign Relations. 

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Jane Tylus (Italian)

Jane Tylus specializes in late medieval and early modern European literature, religion, and culture, with secondary interests in 19th-20th century fiction.  Her work has focused on the recovery and interrogation of lost and marginalized voices –historical personages, dialects and “parole pellegrine”, minor genres such as pastoral, secondary characters in plays, poems, and epics.  She has also been active in the practice and theory of translation. Her current book project explores the ritual of departure in early modernity, especially how writers and artists sent their works into the world.

She previously taught at NYU in Italian Studies and Comparative Literature, where she was founding faculty director of the Humanities Initiative, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  She has been General Editor for the journal I Tatti Studies in the Italian Renaissance since 2013.

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