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Distinguished Chair for Teaching Excellence in the Academy for Teaching Excellence;
Professor of English and Humanities

Office: L330

Phone: 847-925-6480


Courses Taught:

English 101: Composition

English 101 Special Section: Pathways to Peace: Nonviolence and Social Activism

English 101 and Philosophy 115: Give Peace a Chance (Learning Community)

English 102: Composition/Introduction to Literature/Writing the Research Paper

English 102 Special Sections: Literature of the Holocaust; War: What is it Good For?

English 102 & History 142: Literature and History of the Holocaust (Learning Community)

Lit 112 & History 112: Illusions and Illuminations: American Perceptions of the Holocaust (Learning Community).

Lit 115: Fiction

Lit 206: World Literature to 1800

Lit 207: World Literature Since 1800

Lit 221: American Literature, Colonial Days to Civil War

Lit 222: American Literature, Civil War to the Present

Hum 102: Western Civilization, Renaissance to the Present

Hum 105: Great Ideas of World Civilizations

HUM 110: Women and Creativity

Hum 115: International and Regional Studies in Humanities: Americans Abroad Encounter the City of Light (summer course for Harper students in Paris, France)

Independent Studies Co-Designed with Students:

Literature and Civil Rights

American Literary Realism, Naturalism, and Modernism

Introduction to Literary Theory

Writing Non-Fiction Narratives

Individual and Group Identity in the Literature of Baseball


PhD, English, University of California, Los Angeles, 1993

  • Major field of concentration: Nineteenth-Century Literature; the novel.
  • Dissertation topic: "Dostoevsky, Melville and the Conventions of the Novel: Fictional Alliances." Explores the ways in which both Dostoevsky and Melville undermined conventions common to the novel throughout the nineteenth century; demonstrates the ways they transformed the novel and prefigured Modernism.

MA, English, University of California, Los Angeles, 1988

BA, English, University of California, Los Angeles, 1983

  • (Junior Year Abroad, English, University of York, England, 1981-82)


Herman Melville

American Literature

19th and 20th century Russian prose fiction

Literature of the Holocaust

Literature of peace and non-violence

Literature and Human Rights

The ethical philosophy of Emmanuel Levinas

Sabbatical Project:

I spent my sabbatical in Spring 2011 at The Centre for Applied Human Rights at The University of York in England. I took courses in “Asylum, Trafficking, and Human Migration” and “Truth, Justice, and Reparations.” I worked on developing a course linking literature with human rights, and taught a pilot version of the course to a mix of graduate students and faculty from the Centre and from the Department of English and Related Literatures. For information about the Centre, please go to I would be delighted to discuss my experience with anyone who is interested.  



"The Myth of Jewish Passivity." Jewish Resistance to the Nazis. Ed. Patrick Henry. Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 2014.

“Dialogic Ethics through Levinas and Bakhtin: Dialogism and Infinite Obligation to the Other in Three Twentieth-Century Dramas.” Levinas and Twentieth-Century Literature: Ethics and the Reconstitution of Subjectivity. Ed. Donald Wehrs. Newark, DE: University of Delaware Press, 2013. 191-215.

“Using Literature to Teach Peace,” co-authored with Patrick Henry. Peace Research: The Canadian Journal of Peace and Conflict Studies 42.1-2 (2010): 139-63.

"Play It Again, Herman: Melville at the Movies." Leviathan: A Journal of Melville Studies 11.3 (Oct. 2009): 55-71.

"Facing the Face of the Enemy: Levinasian Moments in All Quiet on the Western Front and the Literature of War." Modern Fiction Studies 54.1 (Spring 2008).

"The New American Poetry." The Encyclopedia of Beat Culture. Literary Movements Series. Ed. Kurt Hemmer. New York: Facts on File, 2006.

"Dialogism and the Bakhtinian Adventure Plot in Melville's The Confidence-Man." (Conference paper abstract.) Melville Society Extracts 128 (February 2005): 8.

"Romantic and Realist Rubble: The Foundation for a New National Literature in Dostoevsky's Poor Folk and Melville's Pierre." Comparative Romanticisms: Power, Gender, Subjectivity. Ed. Larry H. Peer and Diane Long Hoeveler. Columbia, South Carolina: Camden House, 1998. 47-58.


Approaches to Teaching Wiesel's Night, ed. Alan Rosen, in Shofar: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Jewish Studies 26.1 (Fall 2007).

Martin Bickman's Walden: Volatile Truths, and Elizabeth Cheresh Allen's Beyond Realism: Turgenev's Poetics of Secular Salvation, in Philosophy and Literature 17 (2) (October 1993): 359-361.

Conference Presentations:

“Sustaining Student Sensitivity to Directors’ Dilemmas: The Role of Creative Projects in a Holocaust and Film LC,” co-presented with Leslye Hess. 16th Annual National Learning Communities Conference. November, 2011. Chicago, IL.

“Redemption Song: Claggart’s Tragedy and Moral Resurrection in Claire Denis’s Beau Travail.” Panel sponsored by The Lyrica Society and The Melville Society: “Billy in the Darbies…” Modern Language Association Annual Convention. January, 2011. Los Angeles, CA.

“It’s a Banner Year for Learning Communities—But Is that a Good Thing?” and “Learning Communities Troubleshooting.” 15th Annual National Learning Communities Conference. November, 2010. Bay City, MI.

“Justice at the Crossroads: Levinas’s ‘Eye for an Eye’ as a Response to Gandhi.” Readings of Difficult Freedom: A Joint Conference of Société Internationale de Recherches Emmanuel Levinas (SIREL, Paris) and the North American Levinas Society (NALS, USA). July, 2010. Toulouse, France.

"Violent and Non-Violent Jewish Resistance throughout Europe: An Overview." Special Panel: Ending the Last Myth of the Holocaust: The Passivity of the Jews: The Evidence from France. Panel chaired by Patrick Henry. Kentucky Foreign Language Conference. April, 2010. Lexington, KY.

"Learning from Lysistrata: What Aristophanes Can Teach Us about Women, Warfare, and Protest in Contemporary America." Guest lecture to Purdue University Interdisciplinary Program in Classics. Spring 2009. West Lafayette, IN.

"The Sacredness of the Other: Infinite Obligation in Dostoevsky's Poor Folk and Melville's Bartleby." North American Levinas Society 3rd Annual Conference. September, 2008. Seattle, WA.

"Existence as Resistance: Jorge Semprun's The Long Voyage and Sarah Kofman's Rue Ordener, Rue Labat." Lessons & Legacies IX: Conference on the Holocaust. December, 2007. Yad Vashem, Jerusalem, Israel.

"Divided Races, Divided Psyches: Herman Melville's Subversion of Racial Essentialism in Typee." Special panel: "The Story on the Body: Textual Tattoos and the Corporeal Canvas." Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association Conference. April, 2007. Boston, MA.

"The Savage Mime: How Tattoos Silently Rewrite Race and Identity in Melville's Typee." Race and Ethnicity in the Nineteenth Century: The Nineteenth Century Studies Association 28th Annual Conference. March, 2007. Selinsgrove, PA.

"Memoir and Memory: Re-inventing Narrative Modes to Truthfully Convey Holocaust Memories." Nation and Narration: Ninth Annual Red River Conference on World Literature. April, 2006. Fargo, North Dakota.

"Tattoos and Other Taboos in Melville's Typee." Taboo and Transgression: Conference of the College English Association--Carribean Chapter. February, 2005. Mayaguez, Puerto Rico.

"Dialogism and the Bakhtinian Plot in Melville's The Confidence-Man." Melville Society Panel: "Melville's Dialogic Muse." Modern Language Association 120th Annual Convention. December, 2004. Philadelphia, PA.

"Deceptive Appearances: Anti-Romance Beneath the Surface in Melville's Typee." Melville in the Marquesas: An Interdisciplinary Conference and Expedition. Sponsored by the Purdue Circle for America-Pacific Studies. June-July, 2003. Marquesas Islands and Tahiti.

"Romantic and Realist Rubble: The Foundation for a New National Literature in Melville's Pierre and Dostoevsky's Poor Folk." Second Annual American Conference on Romanticism. September, 1995. Milwaukee, WI.

"The Drama of Consciousness in Dostoevsky and Melville." Annual meeting of the Philological Association of the Pacific Coast. November, 1993. Seattle, WA.

"The Function of Women and Genre in Melville's Pierre: Country Utopia and City Dystopia." Utopian Studies Conference. November, 1992. Baltimore, MD.

"Whitening the Self, Blackening the Other: Facing the Dark in Melville's Typee and Morrison's The Bluest Eye." Special session chaired by Eric Sundquist. American Literature Association Conference. May, 1992. San Diego, CA.


Editor of Charles S. Lauer's Reach for the Stars (Walla Walla, WA: CCI Books, 1998)