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Director's Message

In my first year as program director, it’s been delightful to observe CLS’s thriving energies at work in the many achievements of our undergraduate and graduate students.  Thanks to Max Rowe, a CLS student won the ACLA Presidential Prize for the third year in a row in 2019!  This winning streak is a striking indication of the excellence of our mentoring faculty as well as Professor Tristram Wolff’s care and commitment when it comes to the undergraduate section.  At the graduate level, three of our students earned well-deserved recognition from Northwestern: Sorrel Dunn won the Beiling Wu Prize for best first-year paper; Jonas Rosenbrueck won the Teaching Prize; Maziyar Faridi won the Ferdowsi Tusi Award in Persian Literature and Culture.

Given the profuse talents that make up CLS, we might say that the program’s vibrancy is not only a matter of quality but also of quantity.  Even a casual glance through the most recent wave of applications to the graduate section reveals that the applicants come from more than twenty different countries and represent an even broader range of interests, methodologies, fields of specialization, and points of view.  We may come to feel with good reason that the distinctive happiness of CLS consists precisely in such rich diversity.  Three new graduate students—Viola Bao, Raina Bhagat and Piotr Kawulok, —will join us this Fall and one more, Eleonora Colli, will do so in academic year 2020-2021.  In addition, our own majors Isabella Schmidt and Jenny Kang have gained admission this year to the BA/MA program.

We are thrilled to announce two new additions to the program’s core faculty beginning in 2019-2020: Rajeev Kinra and Neil Verma.  Professors Kinra and Verma will help us to strengthen and develop important areas of our curriculum in MENA and in Asian Studies.  In addition, Todd Nordgren will join CLS as a Visiting Professor next year, and we look forward to welcoming him to our ranks.

This year a number of graduate students completed their degrees: Patrícia Anzini Da Costa, Richard Gabri, Ruth Martin Curry, Kritish Rajbhandari, Ben Schacht, and Vincent Valour.  Congratulations to each of you on this important achievement!  Kritish leaves us for a tenure-track assistant professorship at Reed College, Patrícia Anzini da Costa is taking a position as junior researcher and assistant at the Research Center for Communication and Culture at the Catholic University, in Lisbon and Ruth Martin Curry is Postdoctoral Scholar at Northwestern for the Center for Civic Engagement.  Several other students have secured postdoctoral fellowships.  I think I may speak momentarily for everyone in CLS in wishing each of you the best in the days to come and sincerely hoping all of you will stay in touch with us.

Of the many talks and events that have enlivened the past year, I wish to remember in particular one that was organized by our graduate students in December 2018.  The lecture entitled “Genealogies of Emergency” by Siraj Ahmed, Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Lehman College and the Ph.D. Program in English at The Graduate Center and author of the recent book Archeology of Babel: The Colonial Foundations of the Humanities, was at once both an outstanding and a representative intellectual event of the academic year.  From my perspective, Professor Ahmed’s thought-provoking scholarship offered an abundance of ideas with important implications for all of us across a wide range of fields and topics of inquiry.

In the coming year, we can look forward with anticipation to the visiting professorship of Daniel Loick, one of the most exciting and relevant philosophers of recent generations in Europe.

As the past academic year winds to a close, my sincere thanks go to the CLS team, in particular the program’s brilliant DGS, Harris Feinsod, and wonderful and superb assistant, Sarah Peters, both of whom have helped all of us on a daily basis and in so many effective ways to fulfill our individual responsibilities as scholars and our duties to one another as a community.  Finally, I hope you will enjoy the following updates and photos from our students, alumni, and faculty members.

-Alessia Ricciardi


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