Student Advisors

Student Advisors

  • Zachary Roberts is a doctoral candidate in the Department of English and Comparative Literature focusing in American literature. His dissertation explores the connections between 19th century American realist and naturalist fiction and the visual arts, particularly painting. His research and teaching interests include: 19th and 20th century American literature and literary history, realist fiction and theories of realism, poetics and aesthetics, art history and visual culture, literature and the environment, Henry James, American cultural criticism, and the folk arts and American literary nationalism. He currently teaches Literature Humanities in the Core Curriculum.

  • Valerie Paley is vice president, director of the Center for Women’s History, and chief historian at the New-York Historical Society. A graduate of Vassar College, she holds an MA in American Studies and a PhD in History from Columbia University.

    Paley’s responsibilities at the New-York Historical Society encompass a critical range of curatorial, educational, and administrative roles, which include the development of the new Center for Women’s History, curating permanent and temporary exhibitions, supervising pre- and postdoctoral fellows as former Dean of Scholarly Programs, and editing publications. In 2011, she curated the institution’s permanent exhibition, New York and the Nation, an installation which continues to provide an intellectually dynamic and visually impressive introduction to the museum for all who visit. Paley serves on the board of Humanities New York and is an elected member of the Council (governing board) of the American Historical Association.

  • Todd Gitlin, an American writer, sociologist, communications scholar, novelist, poet, and not very private intellectual, is the author of sixteen books, including Media Unlimited: How the Torrent of Images and Sounds Overwhelms Our Lives; The Twilight of Common Dreams: Why America Is Wracked by Culture Wars; The Sixties: Years of Hope, Days of Rage; Inside Prime Time; The Whole World Is Watching: Mass Media in the Making and Unmaking of the New Left; Occupy Nation:  The Roots, the Spirit, and the Promise of Occupy Wall StreetThe Chosen Peoples:  America, Israel, and the Ordeals of Divine Election (co-author); The Bulldozer and the Big Tent: Blind Republicans, Lame Democrats, and the Recovery of American Ideals; The Intellectuals and the Flag; Letters to a Young Activist; Uptown: Poor Whites in Chicago (co-author); three novels, Undying, Sacrifice and The Murder of Albert Einstein; and a book of poetry, Busy Being Born. These books have been translated into Japanese, Korean, Chinese, German, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish. He also edited Watching Television and Campfires of the Resistance.

    His forthcoming book is a novel, The Opposition.

    He has contributed to many books and published widely in general periodicals (The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco Examiner, Boston Globe, Dissent, The New Republic, The Nation, Chronicle of Higher Education, Wilson Quarterly, Harper’s, American Journalism Review, Columbia Journalism Review, The American Prospect, The Occupied Wall Street Journal, LA Review of Books, Washington Spectator, et al.), online magazines (,,, and scholarly journals. He is a columnist for Tablet (, a media commentator at, and a member of the editorial board of Dissent. Previously, he was a columnist at the New York Observer and the San Francisco Examiner, and a regular op-ed contributor to the Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, and Newsday. His poems have appeared in The New York Review of Books, Yale Review, The New Republic, and Raritan.

    In 2000, Sacrifice won the Harold U. Ribalow Prize for books on Jewish themes. The Sixties and The Twilight of Common Dreams were Notable Books in the New York Times Book Review. Inside Prime Time received the nonfiction award of the Bay Area Book Reviewers Association; The Sixties was a finalist for that award and the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award.

    He holds degrees from Harvard University (mathematics), the University of Michigan (political science), and the University of California, Berkeley (sociology). He was the third president of Students for a Democratic Society, in 1963-64, and coordinator of the SDS Peace Research and Education Project in 1964-65, during which time he helped organize the first national demonstration against the Vietnam War and the first American demonstrations against corporate aid to the apartheid regime in South Africa. During 1968-69, he was an editor and writer for the San Francisco Express Times, and through 1970 wrote widely for the underground press.  In 2003-06, he was a member of the Board of Directors of Greenpeace USA.

    He is now a professor of journalism and sociology and chair of the Ph. D. program in Communications at Columbia University. Earlier, he was for sixteen years a professor of sociology and director of the mass communications program at the University of California, Berkeley, and then for seven years a professor of culture, journalism and sociology at New York University. During 1994-95, he held the chair in American Civilization at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris. He has been the Bosch Fellow in Public Policy at the American Academy in Berlin, a resident at the Bellagio Study Center in Italy and at the Djerassi Foundation in Woodside, California, a fellow at the Media Studies Center in New York, and a visiting professor at Yale University, the University of Oslo, the University of Toronto, East China Normal University in Shanghai, the Institut Supérieur des Langues de Tunis in Tunisia, the American University of Cairo, and the Université de Neuchatel (Switzerland).

    He lectures frequently on culture and politics in the United States and abroad (Britain, France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Germany, Denmark, Norway, Russia, Greece, Turkey, India, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Canada, Mexico, Morocco, Egypt). He has appeared on many National Public Radio programs including Fresh Air as well as PBS, ABC, CBS and CNN. He lives in New York City with his wife, Laurel Cook.

  • Education

    Ph.D. – Columbia University 2012
    M.S. – Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism 2002
    B.A. – Vassar College 1999


    Interests and Research

    Thai Jones studies radical social movements, New York City history, and Environmental History in the United States. He is the author of two books. The latest, More Powerful Than Dynamite: Radicals, Plutocrats, Progressives, and New York's Year of Anarchy (Bloomsbury, 2014 [2012]), rediscovers a forgotten political crisis that roiled New York City in the early twentieth century. His first book, A Radical Line: From the Labor Movement to the Weather Underground, One Family's Century of Conscience (Free Press, 2004), explored his own family’s long history of political dissent against the backdrop of twentieth century social movements. He is currently working on Boomtown, a history of labor and the environment in Progressive Era gold-mining communities. Before becoming Lehman Curator, Jones was an assistant professor of history at the Bard College Master of Arts in Teaching Program. Formerly a reporter for Newsday, his writings have appeared in a variety of national publications, ranging from the New York Times to The Nation, to the Occupied Wall Street Journal. 

  • Tamara Mann Tweel specializes in the history of social welfare, the ethics of philanthropy, and aging in America. Professor Tweel received a Masters in Theological Studies at the Harvard Divinity School and worked for years building interfaith coalitions in New York City after September 11th. She completed a Ph.D. in American History at Columbia University, where she wrote her dissertation on the political and ethical challenges of aging in America. In addition to teaching, Professor Tweel works in the policy and non-profit space, assisting think tanks, foundations, and major philanthropists on their social welfare work. Professor Tweel has received the K. Patricia Cross Future Leaders Award from the Association of American Colleges and Universities and the Hugh Davis Graham Award from the Institute of Political History. She recently testified before Congress on the value of the humanities, bringing the stories of the Freedom and Citizenship students to our national representatives. Her current academic research includes the ethical repercussions of how Americans have defined life, death, and care.

  • B.A. Kenyon, Ph.D. Johns Hopkins. Professor Posnock was Andrew Hilen Professor of American Literature at the University of Washington before teaching in the English department at New York University from 2000 to 2004. His books include Henry James and the Problem of Robert Browning (1985, University of Georgia Press); The Trial of Curiosity: Henry James, William James and the Challenge of Modernity (1991, Oxford UP); and Color and Culture: Black Writers and the Making of the Modern Intellectual (Harvard UP, 1998); The Cambridge Companion to Ralph Ellison (editor, 2005); Philip Roth's Rude Truth: The Art of Immaturity (Princeton UP, 2006). He is series editor of Cambridge Studies in American Literature and Culture and is a contributing editor of Raritan and American Literary History. In 1994 he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship. In 2009 he was elected to The American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Renunciation: Acts of Abandonment by Writers, Philosophers and Artists will appear in January 2016 (Harvard University Press).

  • Roosevelt Montàs is Director of the Center for the Core Curriculum at Columbia College.  He holds an A.B., Columbia College (1995), and an M.A. (1996) and Ph.D. (2004) in English, Columbia University.  Roosevelt is Director of the Center for the Core Curriculum, at Columbia College.  Montàs specializes in Antebellum American literature and culture, with a particular interest in American citizenship.  His dissertation, Rethinking America: Abolitionism and the Antebellum Transformation of the Discourse of National Identity, won Columbia University’s 2004 Bancroft Award.  In 2000, he received the Presidential Award for Outstanding Teaching by a Graduate Student. Montàs regularly teaches “Introduction to Contemporary Civilization,” a year-long course on primary texts in moral and political thought in the West, as well as a seminar for the Center for American Studies entitled “Freedom and Citizenship in the United States.”  Montàs is also a seminar instructor for the Freedom and Citizenship program sponsored by the Center for American Studies and the Double Discovery Center.  As Director of the Center for the Core Curriculum he speaks frequently on the history, meaning, and future of liberal education.

  • Roger Lehecka retired from a long career at Columbia University at the end of 2004. Among other positions he held at the University, he was Dean of Students for 19 years. He was a founder of Columbia's Upward Bound Program in 1965, an experience that taught him more about the ways access to college is not equally available to all talented youngsters. His three years with Upward Bound led to a career in higher education that always focused on expanding opportunity for those previously excluded from a college education. He remains involved at Columbia in a number of ways and has been teaching the Equity in Higher Education seminar with Prof. Delbanco annually since 2007. In his current work Mr. Lehecka helps low-income students from New York City, rural Pennsylvania, and central Florida get admitted to good colleges and find the financial aid to attend. He continues to advise them throughout college, wherever they enroll, to help them through the difficult times most students face. Mr. Lehecka attended New York City public schools before entering Columbia College. He has a Masters degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Education as well as an A.B. and M.Phil. from Columbia University.

  • B.A., Columbia College, Physics (1961); Ph.D. Brandeis University, Biology (1966).  Robert Pollack, Professor of Biological Sciences, joined the faculty of Columbia University in 1978. His laboratory research focused on the potential utility of stable reversion from the oncogenic phenotype. His teaching focuses on the application of knowledge of the natural world to problems that require decisions that cannot be based solely on such data-driven knowledge. He was a Postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Howard Green at NYU Medical Center from 1966-1969; a research scientist at the Weizmann Institute of Science in 1969-70; a senior scientist at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory from 1970 to 1975; and an associate professor of microbiology at the State University of New York at Stony Brook from 1975 until he joined the faculty as a Professor in 1978.  Until 1991 his NIH-supported laboratory research focused on elaboration of his discovery in 1968 that the clonal descendants of tumor cells include genetically stable revertant cells, capable of growing into normal populations in turn. Beginning in the late 1990s, after he had set aside lab work in order to write a series of books, he has been pleased to note that other laboratories have begun to apply his discovery to the development of novel forms of cancer chemotherapy. As a result, his early research continues to be referenced in current research articles.  He received the Alexander Hamilton Medal from Columbia University, the Gershom Mendes Seixas Award from the Columbia/Barnard Hillel, and held a Guggenheim Fellowship. He presented the Schoff Lectures at Columbia in 1998, which led to his third book, The Faith of Biology and the Biology of Faith.  He is the Director of the University Seminars and heads the Research Cluster on Science and Subjectivity in the Center for Science and Society.

  • B.A. Yale University (1994); M.Phil. University of Pennsylvania (1995); Ph.D. University of Pennsylvania (2002). Rebecca Kobrin works in the field of American Jewish History. Professor Kobrin served as the Hilda Blaustein Post-Doctoral Fellow at Yale University (2002–2004) and the American Academy of Jewish Research Post-Doctoral Fellow at New York University (2004–2006). Her area of specialty is Jewish immigration history, which she approaches through a transnational lens. Her research interests span from the fields of urban history to American religion and diaspora studies.

  • B.A, University of California, Berkeley (1990); M.A., University of Michigan (1992); Ph.D., University of California, Santa Barbara (1997). Professor Adams specializes in 19th- and 20th-century literatures of the United States and the Americas, media studies, theories of race, gender, and sexuality, and disability studies. She is the author of Continental Divides: Reframing the Cultures of North America (2009) and Sideshow U.S.A.: Freaks and the American Cultural Imagination (2001).

  • Peter Temes is the founder and president of the Institute for Innovation in Large Organizations. He holds a PhD in English and American Literature from Columbia, where his studies included an emphasis on the rhetoric of the American Civil Rights Movement. He has been a faculty member at Harvard University, president of the Antioch New England Graduate School, and president of the Great Books Foundation. He is the author of several books, including The Just War: An American Reflection on the Ethics of War in Our Time, and The Future of the Jewish People in Five Photographs.

  • Paul Levitz is a comic fan (The Comic Reader), editor (Batman), writer (Legion of Super-Heroes), executive (30 years at DC, ending as President & Publisher), historian (Will Eisner: Champion of the Graphic Novel, Abrams ComicArts, 2015) and educator (including the American Graphic Novel at Columbia).  Paul Levitz was extensively involved in transmedia in his four decades with DC Comics ending as President & Publisher from 2002-2009. He won two consecutive annual Comic Art Fan Awards for Best Fanzine, received Comic-con International’s Inkpot Award, the prestigious Bob Clampett Humanitarian Award, the Comics Industry Appreciation Award from ComicsPro and the Dick Giordano Humanitarian Award from the Hero Initiative.  

    His 75 Years of DC Comics won the Eisner Award, the Eagle Award and Munich’s Peng Pris, and has been released as three separate volumes in 2013-5. His over 400 comics have been collected in over 20 graphic novels, and he is the first writer to have appeared on the New York Times Graphic Books Bestseller List for both fiction and non-fiction. Levitz also serves on the board of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, and Boom! Studios.  He teaches at Princeton, Columbia, Manhattanville and in Pace’s graduate program.


  • Nick is a fifth-year doctoral candidate in the Department of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia. He received his BA from the University of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia, and his MSt. from the University of Oxford, where he studied at St. Anne's College. After college, Nick spent two years tutoring and teaching at an after-school learning center in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. When not engaged in research or teaching, he can be found reading, running along the river, and making things out of wood. Nick was born and raised in New York City.

    Areas of Interest: Nineteenth-century and antebellum American literature; the history and culture of colonization and resistance; the idea of the Renaissance

  • Michael Hindus is an energy partner in the international law firm, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP, with a practice focusing on renewable energy and state and federal energy regulation.  He graduated from Columbia College in 1968 with a major in History, studying with James P. Shenton, Walter Metzger and David Rothman.  While at Columbia he participated in the Double Discovery Program from 1966-1968.  Mr. Hindus received his MA and PhD from the University of California at Berkeley, taught at the University of Minnesota, and published two books in American History before turning to law.  He graduated from Harvard Law School cum laude in 1979.

  • Prof. Spiegel specializes in contemporary fiction, film, and narrative theory.  She is the associate director the Program in Narrative Medicine at Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons, where she teaches a film course to medical students.  She co-authored The Grim Reader: Writings on Death, Dying and Living on (Anchor/Doubleday), and The Theory and Practice of Narrative Medicine (Oxford University Press). She edited and introduced editions of Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle and Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan of the Apes for the Barnes & Noble Classics Series.  With Rita Charon, MD, PhD, she edited the journal Literature and Medicine (Johns Hopkins University Press) for seven years.  She has written for The New York Times and Newsday, and has published articles on the history of the emotions, Charles Dickens, Victorian fashion, diamonds in the movies, among many other topics. She is currently writing a book on the life and films of Sidney Lumet (St. Martin’s Press), 

  • Matt is a doctoral candidate in the Department of English and Comparative Literature. Originally from Asheville, N.C., he received his B.A. in English at the University of Pennsylvania in 2014. He specializes in nineteenth- and twentieth-century American literature and culture, with an emphasis on pragmatism, modernism, and media studies. His dissertation "Reforming Reform" examines how American novelists deployed political satire during the 1880's to both support and critique the various reform movements of the day.

  • Matthew Joseph is a doctoral student in History at Columbia University, specializing in 20th century U.S. cultural history with a focus on popular music. Matthew received his B.A. in History and Ethnicity, Race & Migration from Yale University. Prior to coming to Columbia, he presented and published on Mississippi Hill Country blues music, antebellum slave songs of the U.S. South, New Orleans’ Mardi Gras Indian tradition, and Cuban son and hip hop. He also worked at the Blues Archive at the University of Mississippi, the Centro de Documentación in Veracruz, the Louisiana State Museum in New Orleans, and at several record stores. Matthew is currently researching the intertwined histories of punk and hip hop in 1970s and 1980s New York City.

  • Lynne Breslin is a founding member of the architecture firm LBA. Her firm’s award winning work in the US, China and Africa has been widely published. She has taught architectural history and theory as well as design studio at the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation at Columbia since 1986. She has also taught at Princeton University School of Architecture, the Cooper Union and Pratt University. A graduate of Harvard College, she holds a M.Arch and M.A. from Princeton University. She was a Luce Scholar and served on the Advisory Board of the Princeton School of Architecture.

    In addition to housing, single family residences, and schools, Breslin has designed a wide range of exhibitions for major museums including the opening temporary exhibition for the U S Holocaust Memorial Museum, the Cotsen Children’s Library at Princeton University, Slavery in NY and the Civil War for the N-Y Historical Society, and the permanent exhibition at the Empire State building. Space, construction, video, graphics and artifacts are used to immerse visitors and compel them to examine the conventions of museum narratives. She has also written essays for books and design magazines on contemporary Japanese architecture and urbanism, museums and photography.



  • Les Levi has 30 years of experience in the financial markets as a portfolio manager, research analyst, and investment banker focusing principally on global credit markets. Mr. Levi is currently a Managing Director at investment banking boutique Gordian Group LLC. Previously he held senior positions at Plainfield Asset Management, JP Morgan Chase, Merrill Lynch and Drexel Burnham Lambert. Mr. Levi graduated from New York University magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from New York University in 1975, majoring in English. He received his PhD in English and Comparative Literature from Columbia University in 1982 and an MBA in Finance from the Stern School, New York University, in 1988. He is currently an Adjunct Professor of Business at the Stern School, a position he has held since 2003. He also serves on the alumni Board of Columbia’s Graduate School of Arts and Science.

  • Jonathan Freedman is a corporate partner in the international law firm Sidley Austin LLP, with a practice focusing on capital markets and mergers and acquisitions transactions in the insurance industry. He graduated from Columbia College magna cum laude in 1978 with a major in History, studying under Professor James Shenton, one of founders of the Double Discovery Program. Mr. Freedman received his J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center in 1981. He also serves on the Steering Committee of the Board of Visitors of the Department of History at Columbia.

  • John H McWhorter is an associate professor of English and comparative literature at Columbia University. He earned his B.A. from Rutgers, his M.A. from New York University, and his Ph.D. in linguistics from Stanford. Professor McWhorter has taught the American Studies seminar "Language in America," a study of American linguistic history that considered Native American languages, immigrant languages, creole languages, and Black English -- their development, interactions, and preservation. He has also taught the seminar "Language Contact," which focused specifically on the mixture of language in North America, and studied the development of creoles, pidgins, koines, "vehicular" languages, and nonstandard dialects. The seminar considered perceived legitimacy of languages, and the standing of language mixtures in media and education.

    Professor McWhorter is an author of more than a dozen books including The Power of Babel: A Natural History of Language, Losing the Race: Self Sabotage in Black America and Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue: The Untold History of EnglishIn 2016 he published Words on the Move: Why English Won't - and Can't - Sit Still (Like, Literally)He also regularly contributes to newspapers and magazines including The New Republic and The Atlantic. Students might be particularly interested in his article on how immigrants change languages in The Atlantic and an essay on policing the "N-word" in Time.

  • Before earning her doctorate in history from Columbia in 2016, Jessica taught Contemporary Civilization and served as the coordinator of Freedom and Citizenship, a community-outreach education program run by the university's Center for American Studies and Double Discovery Center. Her dissertation examined the formation of an Italian ethnic voting block during the Great Depression, and her research interests of citizenship, political identity, and grassroots mobilization complimented her work in Contemporary Civilization and Freedom and Citizenship. Jessica is now the Associate Director of Freedom and Citizenship, and is currently overseeing its expansion at Columbia and on other campuses nationwide.

  • Jeremy Dauber is professor in the German Department, specializing in Yiddish literature and director of Columbia's Institute of Israel and Jewish Studies. His first book, Antonio's Devils: Writers of the Jewish Enlightenment and the Birth of Modern Hebrew and Yiddish Literature (Stanford University Press, 2004), focused on the usage of biblical and rabbinic texts by Yiddish and Hebrew writers of the early Jewish Enlightenment, or Haskala; he is also the co-editor and -translator, with Joel Berkowitz, of Landmark Yiddish Plays (SUNY Press, 2006), an anthology of Yiddish drama. He is also editor, with Barbara Mann, of Prooftexts: A Journal of Jewish Literary History, a leading journal in the field of Jewish literature. His new book, In the Demon's Bedroom: Yiddish Literature and the Early Modern, will be published by Yale University Press in 2010.

    His research interests include Yiddish literature of the early modern period, Hebrew and Yiddish literature of the nineteenth century, the Yiddish theater, and American Jewish literature and popular culture.

  • Jason Resnikoff is a doctoral candidate in the History Department. His dissertation, "The Misanthropic Sublime", explores the history of automation in the postwar United States. It asks why in the immediate aftermath of the Second World War Americans from across the political spectrum believed that work and freedom were irreconcilable. His research and teaching interests include: US intellectual history, labor history, postwar science fiction, the history of capitalism, American literature, and the history of technology. He has published in Tropics of Meta and The Paris Review. He currently teaches Contemporary Civilization in the Core Curriculum.

  • B.A., Columbia (1977); Ph.D., University of Chicago (1982). Professor Shapiro is author of Rival Playwrights: Marlowe, Jonson, Shakespeare (1991); Shakespeare and the Jews (1995), which was awarded the Bainton Prize; Oberammergau: The Troubling Story of the World's Most Famous Passion Play (2000); 1599: A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare (2005), winner of the Theatre Book Prize as well as the BBC Samuel Johnson Prize; and Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare? (2010), winner of the Lionel Trilling Award in 2011. He has co-edited the Columbia Anthology of British Poetry and served as the associate editor of the Columbia History of British Poetry.  He has also co-authored and presented a 3-hour BBC documentary, The King and the Playwright (2012).  He has been awarded fellowships by the Guggenheim Foundation, the NEH, the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers, and the Huntington Library.  He is currently at work on The Year of Lear: Shakespeare in 1606, as well as a Library of America volume on Shakespeare in America.  He is a Governor of the Folger Shakespeare Library, on the Board of Directors of the Royal Shakespeare Company, and in 2011 was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

  • George Chauncey, Professor of History and director of the Columbia Research Initiative on the Global History of Sexualities, works on the history of gender, sexuality, and the city, with a particular focus on American LGBTQ history.  He is the author of Gay New York: Gender, Urban Culture, and the Making of the Gay Male World, 1890-1940, which won five book awards, including the Merle Curti Award in social history (OAH), the Frederick Jackson Turner Prize (OAH), and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for History, and Why Marriage? The History Shaping Today’s Debate over Gay Equality.  He is also the co-editor of Hidden From History: Reclaiming the Gay and Lesbian Past and of a special issue of GLQ: Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies on “Thinking Sexuality Transnationally.”  Since 1993, he has participated as an expert witness in more than thirty gay rights cases, including Romer v. Evans (1996), Lawrence v. Texas (2003), and the marriage equality cases decided by the Supreme Court in 2013 and 2015.  He has also served as historical consultant to numerous public history projects, including exhibitions and lecture series at the New York Public Library and Chicago History Museum and several documentary films.  Before coming to Columbia in fall 2017, he taught at the University of Chicago and at Yale University, where he was awarded Yale’s prize for teaching excellence in the humanities and served as director of both undergraduate and graduate studies for the American Studies program as well as chair of the History Department and chair of the Committee for LGBT Studies.  He is currently completing a book on race, urbanism, and gay male culture and politics in postwar New York City. 

  • Professor of English and Comparative Literature

    B.A., Harvard (1985); Ph.D.,Yale (1992). Professor Griffin's major fields of interest are American and African American literature, music, history and politics. The recipient of numerous honors and awards for her teaching and scholarship, in 2006-2007 Professor Griffin was a fellow at the New York Public Library Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers. She is the author of Who Set You Flowin’: The African American Migration Narrative (Oxford, 1995), If You Can’t Be Free, Be a Mystery: In Search of Billie Holiday (Free Press, 2001) and Clawing At the Limits of Cool: Miles Davis, John Coltrane, and the Greatest Jazz Collaboration Ever (Thomas Dunne, 2008). She is also the editor of Beloved Sisters and Loving Friends: Letters from Addie Brown and Rebecca Primus (Knopf, 1999) co-editor, with Cheryl Fish, of Stranger in the Village: Two Centuries of African American Travel Writing (Beacon, 1998) and co-editor with Brent Edwards and Robert O'Meally of Uptown Conversations: The New Jazz Studies (Columbia University Press, 2004).


  • Ellen Gambino is a PhD candidate in History at Columbia University, focusing on 20th century American cultural history and transatlantic cultural exchange, with a particular emphasis on the performing arts. Ellen graduated from King's College London with first class honors in 2011 and earned her M.A in Public History (museums concentration) from the University of South Carolina in 2015. Prior to coming to Columbia, Ellen worked at the National Museum of American History, the Army Historical Foundation and Historic Columbia and has co-curated several museum exhibit spaces. Ellen is currently researching political theater on the New York and London stages in the 1980s, and maintains a strong interest in museum curation and public history.   

  • Cathleen Price is a 1992 graduate of Columbia College who presently practices law.  She works to confront the disaster of mass incarceration that has resulted from the over-reliance on the prison system as a solution to our society's problems.  Since 1997, she has worked on behalf of death-sentenced prisoners, offenders subject to excessively harsh punishments, and communities marginalized by poverty and chronic discrimination.  She litigates on behalf of individuals and also advocates before legislators and other policymakers.  In addition to practicing law, Ms. Price provides training and consultation assistance to a range of activists and organizations whose work challenges the despair of the prevailing system of criminal justice.  She is a 1996 graduate of Harvard Law School, which in 2004 awarded her its Gary Bellow Public Service Award.


  • Brian Krisberg is a real estate partner in the international law firm Sidley Austin LLP, with a practice focusing on representing lenders and borrowers in the origination of commercial mortgage loans and warehouse lending transactions financing portfolios of commercial mortgage loans. He graduated from Columbia College magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa in 1981, majoring in political science. Mr. Krisberg received his JD from Columbia University Law School in 1984, where he was a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar. He was president of the Columbia College Alumni Association (CCAA) from 2006-08 and currently serves on the Columbia College Board of Visitors and is Vice-Chairman of the Columbia University Alumni Association (CAA).

  • Benjamin Barasch is a doctoral candidate in the Department of English and Comparative Literature. He received his BA in Humanities from Yale in 2009. His dissertation is on the idea of vitality and its relation to style in American literature of the 19th and 20th centuries. His academic interests include philosophical aesthetics, American intellectual history and cultural criticism, modern poetry, and the history and theory of music, European and American. He is currently a Contemporary Civilization preceptor in Columbia's core curriculum, and has been an American Studies advisor since 2014. 

  • Ben Serby is a student in the field of U.S. History, focusing on intellectual and political history in the 20th century. He grew up in the New York City metro area, and received his BA with highest honors from Brandeis University in 2010. His undergraduate thesis, "The Scientific Ideologist: Lewis Feuer and the Marxist Roots of Neoconservatism," explored the changing politics of the "New York intellectuals" from the Great Depression through the 1970s. Research interests include the history of the radical left; the relationship between social movements and social theory; the history of sexuality, gender, the family, and personal life; and the history of New York City. His dissertation is a study of the concept of "liberation" in the youth counterculture and radical movements of the 1960s and 1970s.

    Ben's writing has appeared in SOCIETY and the blogs of The Society for US Intellectual History and the Gotham Center for NYC History. In 2016, he was awarded a History In Action HAPA grant to complete an online exhibition about the life and work of the historian Richard Hofstadter drawn from archival materials and previously unpublished documents. He is a 2016-2017 Andrew W. Mellon Predoctoral Fellowship in Museum Education at the Museum of the City of New York, where he teaches young children about social movements and urban history, and has worked on programming for the exhibition Gay Gotham: Art and Underground Culture in New York City.

  • Alexander Hamilton Professor of American Studies

    Andrew Delbanco was Director of American Studies from 2005-2015.

    He is a recipient of the Great Teacher Award from the Society of Columbia Graduates, the author of College: What it Was, Is, and Should Be (2012), Melville: His World and Work (2005), The Death of Satan (1995), Required Reading: Why Our American Classics Matter Now (1997), The Real American Dream (1999), and The Puritan Ordeal (1989), among other books. His work has been translated into German, Spanish, Korean, Hebrew, Russian, and Chinese.

    Professor Delbanco's essays appear regularly in The New York Review of Books and other journals, on topics ranging from American literary and religious history to contemporary issues in higher education. In 2001, he was named by Time Magazine as "America's Best Social Critic" and elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is an elected member of the American Philosophical Society, a trustee of the Teagle Foundation, the Library of America, and trustee emeritus of the National Humanities Center.

    In February 2012, President Barack Obama presented Professor Delbanco with the National Humanities Medal for his writings on higher education and the place classic authors hold in history and contemporary life.

  • After working as a freelance ballet dancer in the city, Amanda received her B.A. from Columbia University's School of General Studies in 2014. She is currently a PhD student in Columbia’s Department of English and Comparative Literature. Her intellectual interests include 19th and 20th Century American literature and intellectual history; philosophical approaches to literature; slavery, Capitalism, and the history of the American South; American religion, spirituality, and secularism; the revisionist Western; blues and country music; and the films of David Lynch.

  • Alan Robert Ginsberg founded and runs Larchmont Advisors, an institutional investor advisory services company.  He is an attorney in New York State and member in good standing of the New York State Bar Association, as well as a visiting scholar at Columbia University.   Mr. Ginsberg earned an MA in American Studies from Columbia University in 2010, a JD from Boston University School of Law in 1980, and a BA in English and General Literature from SUNY-Binghamton in 1977.  Before founding Larchmont Advisors, he was a research analyst and a research department manager at Barclays Capital from 1998-2000, and Salomon Smith Barney from 1993-1998, and a research analyst at Bear Stearns from 1990-1993 and Drexel Burnham Lambert from 1986-1990, focusing on junk bonds and other forms of debt.