This year the Division of the Humanities welcomes four new faculty members: three assistant professors and one full professor.

Anne Eakin Moss, assistant professor in Slavic Languages and Literatures, studies Russian culture from the mid-nineteenth century, the era of the classic Russian novel, through the twentieth century, using other media in Russian as well as English, French, and German to consider how works of art capture audiences’ imagination and create communities. Her first book, Only Among Women: Philosophies of Community in the Russian and Soviet Imagination, 1860–1940 (Northwestern University Press, 2019), examines the privileged place of women’s relations in Russian culture and thought over eight decades, and the relationship of this fraught conception of collectivity to European intellectual history. Her next project, tentatively titled “The Special Effects of Soviet Wonder,” traces how Soviet cinema of the 1930s created extravagant spectacles for viewers using techniques that were borrowed from Hollywood but offered a very different form of engagement with spectators. Her research from this project has been published in venues including the journals Screen and Film History. A collaborative research project on revolutionary street art during the 1917 Russian and 1979 Iranian Revolutions, still in progress, won a 2019 Johns Hopkins Provost’s Discovery Award.

Eakin Moss joins the University from the Comparative Thought and Literature faculty at Johns Hopkins, where she was a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow and received an award for excellence in teaching and mentorship. Prior to her faculty appointment, she held a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard’s Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies. She has also held a postdoctoral appointment at the International Research Institute for Cultural Technologies and Media Philosophy at Bauhaus University in Weimar, Germany. She received a PhD in Slavic languages and literatures and an MA in Russian literature from Stanford, and she holds a BA from Harvard in the history and literature of Russia.

John Duncan Proios is an assistant professor in Philosophy. His specialization is ancient Greek and Roman philosophy, and he has additional expertise in applied ethics, Buddhist philosophy, the philosophy of science, feminist philosophy, and the philosophy of race. His dissertation, “Classifying Difference and Value: The Metaphysics of Kinds and the Search for the Good in Plato’s Philebus,” analyzes a dialogue between a hedonist and Socrates—who advocates for knowledge over pleasure—and places the work in conversation with contemporary metaphysics and social philosophy. In addition to articles examining Plato and Aristotle, he has written on modern-day ethics issues pertaining to resistance and upward mobility, especially within the context of higher education, and is currently working on a coauthored piece entitled “Plato’s Scientific Feminism.”

More broadly, Proios’s research focuses on how ancient Greek philosophers develop ideas about how the world really is; where the boundaries of nature lie; and how we humans can achieve knowledge to guide our thinking in social, political, and moral domains—for instance, to investigate the idea that social reality is a natural part of the world. He often draws on philosophical traditions of social critique, such as feminist and Marxist theory, to explore these areas of ancient thought. Proios has also written on the philosophy of education and is especially interested in ways that education is epistemically transformative. His work has been published in Ancient Philosophy and the APA Newsletter on Feminism and Philosophy, with articles forthcoming in misReading Plato (Routledge) and Apeiron: A Journal for Ancient Philosophy and Science. Proios received his BA in philosophy and classical studies from Swarthmore, his MA in philosophy from the University of Arizona, and his PhD from the Sage School of Philosophy at Cornell.

Patrice Rankine, Professor in Classics, earned his BA in Ancient Greek magna cum laude from Brooklyn College, City University of New York (CUNY), and his PhD in classical languages and literatures from Yale University. In addition to his scholarship, he has served in a number of significant administrative roles, most recently as dean for the School of Arts & Sciences at the University of Richmond. He is also a committed teacher who won an Excellence in Teaching Award in the School of Languages and Cultures at Purdue University. He researches the Greco-Roman classics and their afterlife, particularly as they pertain to literature, theater, and the history and performance of race. He is author of Choice Magazine Outstanding Academic Title Ulysses in Black: Ralph Ellison, Classicism, and African American Literature (University of Wisconsin Press, 2006) and Aristotle and Black Drama: A Theater of Civil Disobedience (Baylor University Press, 2013), as well as coeditor of The Oxford Handbook of Greek Drama in the Americas (Oxford University Press, 2015). His current book projects include Theater and Crisis: Myth, Memory, and Racial Reckoning, 19642020 (Lever Press, forthcoming) and Slavery and the Book (Harvard University Press, forthcoming), for which he has conducted research on slavery in Brazil and organized an international symposium, “Transhistorical and Interdisciplinary Approaches to Slavery,” as part of an Enhancing Research collaboration grant. He has also taken part in or conducted several NEH Summer Institutes and Seminars.

His ongoing writing includes contributions to Queer Euripides and the Critical Ancient World Studies project, and he will coedit a volume on race, racism, and the classics for Transactions of the American Philological Association. In addition to the reception of classics in current times, Rankine is interested in reading literature with the insights gained from various theoretical approaches, such as race and performance, queer theory, and “history from below,” or social history—a perspective that informs all of his scholarship.

Melissa Van Wyk, assistant professor in East Asian Languages and Civilizations, researches the kabuki and spectacle shows (misemono) of early modern Japan. Her dissertation, which she is currently adapting into a book, is “Restaging the Spectacular: Misemono and Kabuki Theater 1700–1900.” In it, she draws attention to stage elements like acrobatics, extraordinary bodies, and mechanical devices to question existing narratives about kabuki and argue that public discourses of knowledge and medicine were theatrical in nature. While acknowledging the ways in which spectacle can—and historically has—critiqued regimes of knowledge or authority, the project also demonstrates how spectacle, wonder, and marvel were often simultaneously complicit in the production and reinforcement of constructions of the normal by sensationalizing the strange or unusual through exhibition and display. Next, she plans to explore a project on “true crime” in early modern Japan that examines how elements like scandal, sensation, documentary, and fictionality manifest in both drama and fiction. In it, she will consider how theater in particular served as a driving force behind the circulation of sensationalized and sympathetic figures of scandal and crime long before the advent of regularly circulating printed newspapers in Meiji Japan.

Van Wyk was previously a research fellow at Waseda University in Tokyo and also received a Fulbright Fellowship to conduct dissertation research in Japan. Her BA, in classical studies and Latin, is from Calvin University in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and she holds an MA in Japanese studies from the University of Michigan, where she worked as a curatorial assistant on the exhibition Japanese Prints of Kabuki Theater from the Collection of the University of Michigan Museum of Art. Her PhD, in East Asian languages and cultures, is from the University of California, Berkeley.

Photo Creds: 
John Zich