An Incredible Asset

Yale for Life, with its emphasis on interdisciplinary teaching, seminar sessions, outstanding alumni who prepare impeccably, and innovative course topics, is proud to have attracted Yale’s most learned scholars – and its best teachers.  The passion and joy of Yale for Life participants, faculty and alumni alike,  has not gone unnoticed – our faculty not only return for subsequent years, but they assist us in recruiting more of Yale’s finest.  Our faculty frequently will stay in class for sessions taught by other faculty, and almost without exception, they join us for many of our meals and special events.  The result is that faculty are an integral part of the Yale for Life Community, and the special character of their interaction with alumni enhances the experience beyond measure.

Here, then, with pride, we present our lead and guest faculty.

Andy Lipka ’78 talks about the joys of the Yale for Life faculty.

Lead Faculty – “The Enlightenment and Its Critics”

Steven B. Smith

Alfred Cowles Professor of Government and Philosophy

Steven B. Smith has taught at Yale since 1984. He has served as Director of Graduate Studies in Political Science, Director of the Special Program in the Humanities, and Acting Chair of Judaic Studies and from 1996-2011 served as the Master of Branford College. His research has focused on the history of political philosophy with special attention to the problem of the ancients and moderns, the relation of religion and politics, and theories of representative government.

His best known publications include Hegel’s Critique of Liberalism (1989), Spinoza, Liberalism, and Jewish Identity (1997), Spinoza’s Book of Life (2003), Reading Leo Strauss (2006), and The Cambridge Companion to Leo Strauss (2009) and Political Philosophy (2012). His newly released book, Modernity and its Discontents, is now available. He is also the Co-Director of Yale’s Center for the Study of Representative Institutions (YSCRI) that focuses on the theory and practice of representative government in the Anglo-American world.

He has received several academic awards and prizes including the Ralph Waldo Emerson Prize given by Phi Beta Kappa, but is most proud of receiving the Lex Hixon ‘63 Prize for Teaching Excellence in the Social Sciences in 2009. He is a die-hard Yankees fan and hopes to be able to play for the team in the next life.

Isaac Nakhimovsky

Assistant Professor of History and Humanities

Isaac Nakhimovsky is Assistant Professor of History and Humanities. He received his Ph.D. in Political Science from Harvard University in 2008 and began teaching at Yale in 2014, after six years as a research fellow at Emmanuel College and the Faculty of History in the University of Cambridge. His research interests lie in the history of political thought, and focus primarily on European debates about economic competition and international relations in the seventeenth through nineteenth centuries. His first book, The Closed Commercial State: Perpetual Peace and Commercial Society from Rousseau to Fichte (2011), examined the postrevolutionary legacy of eighteenth-century hopes of taming intensifying interstate competition and bringing about the moral transformation of modern economic relations. He has also collaborated on a new edition of Johann Gottlieb Fichte’s Addresses to the German Nation (2013), long considered a key text in the history of nationalism. His current projects include a study of eighteenth-century cosmopolitanism and a political history of the history of political thought since 1848.

Lead Faculty – “World Order and the Meaning of History”

Charles Hill

Diplomat-in-Residence and Distinguished Fellow, International Security Studies

Charles Hill is a diplomat in residence and lecturer in International Studies at Yale University. He is a career minister in the U.S. Foreign Service, serving in a variety of roles such as Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Middle East at the State Department, Chief of Staff of the same, and executive aid to former U.S. Secretary of State George P. Shultz. Dr. Hill has been a fellow at the Harvard University East Asia Research Center, a Clark fellow at Cornell University, and is currently a research fellow at the Hoover Institution. He served as special consultant on policy to the secretary-general of the United Nations from 1992 to 1996. Dr. Hill has collaborated with former U.N. Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali on Egypt’s Road to Jerusalem, a memoir of the Middle East peace negotiations, and Unvanquished, about U.S. relations with the U.N. in the post–cold war period. He is also the editor of the three-volume Papers of U.N. Secretary-General Boutros-Ghali, published by Yale University Press. His book “Grand Strategies: Literature, Statecraft and World Order” is published by Yale University Press. His “Trial of a Thousand Years: Islamism and World Order” is published by the Hoover Press, Stanford University. He received an A.B. degree from Brown University in 1957, a J.D. degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1960, and an M.A. degree in American studies from the University of Pennsylvania in 1961.

Professor Hill has taught undergraduates for a generation, including in the legendary Grand Strategies Program, and in Yale for Life in 2011 (Directed Studies: History and Political Thought), 2012 (Grand Strategies), 2013 (Grand Strategies), and 2014 (Revisiting 1914-1945)

Norma Thompson

Director of Undergraduate Studies for the Humanities Major, Associate Director, Whitney Humanities Center, and Senior Lecturer in the Humanities

Norma Thompson is the Director of Undergraduate Studies for the Humanities Major, Associate Director of the Whitney Humanities Center, and Senior Lecturer in the Humanities, Yale University. Dr. Thompson is the author of Unreasonable Doubt: Circumstantial Evidence and an Ordinary Murder in New Haven (2006). She has published Herodotus and the Origins of the Political Community: Arion’s Leap (1996) and The Ship of State: Politics and Statecraft from Ancient Greece to Democratic America (2001), both with Yale University Press.

She edited the volume Instilling Ethics with Rowman and Littlefield (2000) and has also published in Arion, Nomos, International Journal of the Classical Tradition, and in the festschrift for David Grene, Literary Imagination, Ancient and Modern. Her most recent article is on Herodotus and Thucydides for The Cambridge Companion to Ancient Greek Political Theory (2009). Her current book project is titled “The Making of Character.”

Dr. Thompson received her A.B. from Bowdoin College and her Ph.D. from the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago. Her scholarship and teaching are in the humanities, with special interests in political philosophy and politics and literature.  She memorably taught in the first Yale for Life program in 2011, as lead of the Philosophy section of the Directed Studies: The Greeks course.

Guest Faculty – “The Enlightenment and Its Critics”

Jonathan Kramnick

Maynard Mack Professor of English

Jonathan Kramnick is the Maynard Mack Professor of English. His research and teaching is in eighteenth century literature and philosophy, philosophical approaches to literature, and cognitive science and the arts. His first book—Making the English Canon: Print Capitalism and the Cultural Past, 1700-1770 (Cambridge, 1999)—examined the role of criticism and aesthetic theory in the creation of a national literary tradition. His second—Actions and Objects from Hobbes to Richardson (Stanford, 2010)—considered representations of mind and material objects along with theories of action during the long eighteenth century. Building on this study, his current book project asks what distinctive knowledge the literary disciplines and literary form can contribute to discussions of such topics as perceptual consciousness, created and natural environments, and skilled engagement with the world. Portions have appeared in Critical Inquiry and elsewhere.

Murray Biggs

Associate Professor of Theater Studies (Ret.)

Murray Biggs, semi-retired Adjunct Associate Professor of English and Theater Studies at Yale, is known throughout the campus and with alumni everywhere for his dynamic teaching style that inspires great enthusiasm and active participation. He has led week-long theater seminars in various locations: in London; at the Shakespeare Festival in Stratford, Ontario, and at the Shaw Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake; as well as in Ireland and at the Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, Oregon. He has also offered theater weekends in major cities in the U.S., most regularly in New York City.

Although retired from regular teaching, Professor Murray Biggs is still widely active at and for Yale. Professor Biggs was born in England, brought up in South Africa, and returned to England as a Rhodes Scholar to take his second degree (in English) at Oxford, where he afterwards taught for two years. He later studied acting and for a time performed professionally in Boston. He worked at MIT for ten years, mainly as founder and first Director of the MIT Shakespeare Ensemble. He also taught at Wellesley, Berkeley, and the University of Connecticut before joining the Yale faculty in 1986. He has published many articles and reviews, especially about Shakespeare and his contemporaries in performance. In 1991 he edited a collection of essays, The Arts of Performance in Elizabethan and Early Stuart Drama. He has directed over 40 plays, a third of them from the English Renaissance.

Markus Rathey

Professor in the Practice of Music History

Professor Markus Rathey serves at Yale as Professor in the Practice of Music History in the School of Music. He studied musicology, Protestant theology, and German in Bethel and Münster. He taught at the University of Mainz and the University of Leipzig and was a research fellow at the Bach-Archiv Leipzig, before joining the Yale faculty in 2003. . His research interests are music of the seventeenth, eighteenth, and early nineteenth centuries, Johann Sebastian Bach, and the relationship between music, religion, and politics during the Enlightenment. Recent publications include the books Johann Rudolph Ahle (1625–1673): Lebensweg und Schaffen(Eisenach, 1999), an edition of Johann Georg Ahle’s Music Theoretical Writings (Hildesheim, 2007, 2nd edition 2008), and Kommunikation und Diskurs: Die Bürgerkapitänsmusiken Carl Philipp Emanuel Bachs (Hildesheim, 2009). His most recent books are Johann Sebastian Bach’s Christmas Oratorio: Music, Theology, Culture (Oxford University Press, 2016) and Bach’s Major Vocal Works: Music, Drama, Liturgy (Yale University Press, 2016).

He has contributed articles to Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart, the Laaber Lexikon der Kirchenmusik, and the handbook for the new German Hymnal (Liederkunde zum Evangelischen Gesangbuch). He has published numerous articles on music by Bach and his contemporaries in scholarly journals such as Eighteenth-Century MusicEarly Music HistoryBach-Jahrbuch, and Schütz-Jahrbuch. Professor Rathey is president of the American Bach Society and past president of the Forum on Music and Christian Scholarship (2009–2011). He currently serves on the editorial boards of BACH: Journal of the Riemenschneider Bach Institute and the Yale Journal for Music and Religion.

Maurice Samuels

Betty Jane Anlyan Professor and Chairman of the Department of French

The author of three books, Maurice Samuels specializes in the literature and culture of nineteenth-century France and in Jewish Studies.  The Spectacular Past:  Popular History and the Novel in Nineteenth-Century France (Cornell, 2004), examined new forms of historical representation—including panoramas, boulevard theater, and the novel—in post-Revolutionary France.  It won the Gaddis Smith International Book Prize given by Yale’s MacMillan Center.  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.  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.  He co-edited a Nineteenth-Century Jewish Literature Reader (Stanford UP, 2013) and edited Les grands auteurs de la littérature juive au XIXe siècle (Éditions Hermann, 2015). 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 also directs the Yale Program for the Study of Antisemitism.  Professor Samuels thrilled a Yale for Life group during our earlier course, “Revisiting 1914-1945,” with a seminar on “Modiano and Postmemory,” and he returns by popular demand to enrich our Enlightenment course.

Guest Faculty – “World Order and The Meaning of History”

Jonathan Spence ’65PhD

Sterling Professor Emeritus of History

Jonathan Spence ’65PhD is Sterling Professor Emeritus of History. Professor Spence is one of Yale’s best-loved and most honored Professors.  He is the author of more than a dozen books. Among them, “The Gate of Heavenly Peace, The Chinese and Their Revolution” 1895–1980 (1981) was named by Modern Library as “one of the best non-fiction books of the twentieth century.” His most famous work, “The Search for Modern China” (1990, rev. 1999), which charts the history of China from the fall of the Ming dynasty through the Tiananmen Square uprising, became a New York Times bestseller and continues to be a standard text on Chinese history from the 17th century. Notable among his other works are “To Change China: Western Advisers in China, 1620–1960” (1969); “Emperor of China: Self-portrait of K’ang-his” (1974); “The Death of Woman Wang” (1978); “The Memory Palace of Matteo Ricci” (1984); “The Chan’s Great Continent: China in Western Minds” (1998); “Mao Zedong” (1999); “Treason by the Book” (2001); and “Return to Dragon Mountain: Memories of a Late Ming Man” (2007). With his wife, Annping Chin, Spence co-authored “The Chinese Century: A Photographic History of the Last Hundred Years.” He is also a frequent contributor to the New York Review of Books.

A native of England who became an American citizen in 2000, Professor Spence holds a B.A. in history from Clare College, Cambridge, (1959) and Ph.D. from Yale (1965). He joined the faculty at Yale as an assistant professor in 1966, becoming the George Burton Adams professor of history in 1976 and Sterling Professor of History in 1993. He retired from full-time teaching in 2008.

He is the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including Guggenheim and MacArthur fellowships, as well as 10 honorary degrees. In 2004, he served as the president of the American Historical Association. In 2008, he delivered the prestigious Reith radio lecture series on BBC. In 2001 Spence was made a Companion of the Distinguished Order of St. Michael and St. George (CMG), an honor given by the Queen of England for outstanding achievement.

In 2010, he was selected by the National Endowment of the Humanities (NEH) to deliver the 2010 Jefferson Lecture in the Humanities. The NEH-sponsored annual lecture is considered the most prestigious honor the federal government bestows for achievement in the humanities.

Kirk Freudenberg

Professor and Chairman of Classics

Kirk Freudenburg is Professor of Classics at Yale and in his fourth year as chair of that department. He took his BA at Valparaiso University, an MA at Washington University in St. Louis, and his PhD at University of Wisconsin.
Before joining the Yale faculty, Professor Freudenburg taught at Kent State University; Ohio State University, where he was Associate Dean of the Humanities; and the University of Illinois, where he served as chair of the Department of Classics. His research has long focused on the connection between Roman writing and Roman life, paying special attention to the ways in which cultural practices and protocols inflect the writing of poetry. Most of his published work has centered on issues of free speech in the Roman world, and on ‘satire’ as a literary form and cultural practice. He has written and co-edited several books on the topic of satire, and he has edited an Oxford Readings volume on the hexameter poems of Horace (about whom he will have some things to say on the tour). His current projects include a book on structures of Roman thought and cultural practice in Roman poetry, a commentary on the second book of Horace’s Sermones for the Cambridge Green and Yellows, and he is co-editing the Cambridge Commentary to the Age of Nero.

His main publications include: The Walking Muse: Horace on the Theory of Satire (Princeton, 1993), Satires of Rome: Threatening Poses from Lucilius to Juvenal (Cambridge, 2001), and the Cambridge Companion to Roman Satire(Cambridge, 2005). He has taught, to great acclaim, in Yale for Life in 2011 (Directed Studies).

David Cameron

Professor of Political Science & Director of EU Studies

David R. Cameron is Professor of Political Science at Yale and the Director of the Yale Program in European Union Studies. He has taught at Yale since 1975. He has served, at various times, as chair, director of graduate studies, and director of undergraduate studies of the department. He teaches courses on European politics and the European Union.

He has written extensively about the impact of trade openness on government and, with respect to the EU, about the initiative to complete the internal market, the operation of the European Monetary System, the negotiation and implementation of Economic and Monetary Union, the enlargement of the EU, the eurozone debt crisis, and, most recently, the EU’s Eastern Partnership and the crisis in Ukraine.  His publications include “The Expansion of the Public Economy: A Comparative Analysis,” American Political Science Review, 1978 (one of the ten most-cited APSR articles in the 60 years between 1945 and 2005); Globalization and Self-Determination: Is the Nation-State under Siege? (Routledge, 2006), co-edited with Gustav Ranis and Annalisa Zinn; “Post-Communist Democracy: The Impact of the European Union,” Post-Soviet Affairs, Vol. 23, July-September 2007; “Creating Market Economies after Communism: The Impact of the European Union,” Post-Soviet Affairs, Vol. 25, January-March 2009; and “Post-Soviet Authoritarianism: The Influence of Russia in Its “Near Abroad,” Post-Soviet Affairs, Vol.28, January-March 2012.

John Lewis Gaddis

Robert A. Lovett Professor of History

John Lewis Gaddis is the Robert A. Lovett Professor of Military and Naval History at Yale University. He is also Distinguished Fellow and Director of the Brady-Johnson Program in Grand Strategy and co-teaches Yale’s famous “Studies in Grand Strategy” seminar. Gaddis is probably the best known historian writing in English about the Cold War; he is called the “Dean of Cold War Historians” by The New York Times.  He joined the Yale faculty in 1997, and has served periodically as Acting Director of International Security Studies, as well as Chair of the International Affairs Council at the Whitney and Betty MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies. In the past decade, Professor Gaddis has published Surprise, Security, and the American Experience (Harvard, 2004), an updated edition of Strategies of
Containment: A Critical Appraisal of American National Security Policy During the Cold War (Oxford, 2005), and The Cold War: A New History (Penguin, 2005). He has won two teaching awards at Yale, the Phi Beta Kappa William Clyde DeVane Award (2003) and the Harwood Byrnes-Richard Sewall Prize (2008). His most recent book, George F. Kennan: An American Life (Penguin, 2011), won several major book prizes, including the Pulitzer.  Professor Gaddis received the National Humanities Medal in 2005.

Ted Wittenstein ’04

Executive Director, Johnson Center for the Study of American Diplomacy

Edward (“Ted”) Wittenstein ’04 is Director of International Relations & Leadership Programs for Yale’s Office of International Affairs, where he works in partnership with faculty, deans, and other key university administrators to advance a wide range of Yale initiatives around the world.  A Lecturer at the Jackson Institute for Global Affairs, he also serves as Executive Director of Yale’s Johnson Center for the Study of American Diplomacy and as Executive Director of the Yale Young Global Scholars Program.  Ted is a graduate of Yale College and Yale Law School, who previously worked as Special Assistant to former Yale President Richard Levin and as Director of Special Projects for Vice President Linda Lorimer.  Before returning to work for Yale, Ted held a variety of national security positions at the Department of Defense, Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction, Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and the Department of State.  His expertise in cybersecurity and cyberwarfare is extensive.