Category Archives: faculty news


A staged reading of a new play by Robert Kelly


will be peformed by (program director) Thomas Bartscherer, (program faculty) Marjorie Folkman, Florian Becker, Lynn Behrendt, Mikhail Horowitz, and Paul La Farge

Friday, February 24th and Saturday, February 25th at 8 PM in Bard Hall.
Admission is free.

The play will be preceded by a musical induction featuring
Three Ancient Greek Songs for Tenor and Bassoon
by American composer Adrienne Elisha
performed by Peter Laki and David Adam Nagy.

July 2011 New Faculty Workshop

July 2011 New Faculty Workshop

From 11-15 July 2011, the Language and Thinking program hosted the annual training workshop for new faculty on the Bard College campus. This year, faculty who will be teaching on the Annadale campus in August (Dorothy Albertini, Jeffrey Champlin, Marjorie Folkman, Karen Lepri, and Jean Wagner) were joined by colleagues from three international institutions: Al-Quds University, the American University of Central Asia, and New York University’s Abu Dhabi branch. The team from the Palestinian Al-Quds University, Ziad Abdeen, Rana Surkhi, Omar Surkhi, and Tala Abu Rahme are designing a pilot Language and Thinking program in Arabic for incoming Al-Quds students. This is the first attempt to develop the program for use in a language other than English.

Kamilla Mateeva and Begaiym Esenkulova teach at the American University of Central Asia, with which Bard College has a partnership. They will be integrating Language and Thinking pedagogy into their work at AUCA.

Heidi Stalla, who is founding a writing program at the NYU campus in Abu Dhabi, joined the workshop as part of the program’s ongoing outreach efforts aimed at mutual exchange and development.

The workshops were led by program director Thomas Bartscherer and former director Joan Retallack. During the week, participants worked on texts by Frans de Waal, Franz Kafka, Edward Said, Wallace Stevens, Sophocles, Hannah Arendt, Maria Rosa Menocal, Mercedes Garcia-Arenal, Susan Sontag, Mahmoud Darwish, and Etel Adnan.

Arabic Language and Thinking at Al-Quds University

Al-Quds University, a Palestinian University with campuses in Jerusalem, Abu Dis, and al-Bireh, is developing a pilot Language and Thinking program in Arabic for incoming university students. In June 2011, Thomas Bartscherer, director of Language and Thinking at Bard, and Joan Retallack, the former director, spent several days at Al-Quds working with faculty and administrators to introduce them to the principles and practices of the program and to explore how it can be adapted for use at Al-Quds.

In the epilogue to his book What is a Palestinian State Worth? (Harvard, 2011), Sari Nusseibeh, the president of Al-Quds, has written the following about education: “I believe that what our students need most is faith in themselves—and faith that they have it within themselves to shape history. No single or magic formula exists for nurturing this kind of faith, but surely it involves learning to respect oneself, and therefore others, first as individual human beings and then also as public actors and creators (very much like what Hannah Arendt describes as being a citizen in the classical sense). Surely it involves learning to respect life and the acts of creation that life brings—in the arts and the sciences, in politics, as well as in private instances of human warmth and sharing.”

There is great affinity between this vision of education and the guiding principles of Language and Thinking, and it is in this spirit that the program is being developed for Al-Quds University.

The sessions conducted with Al-Quds faculty and administrators in June were structured as Language and Thinking workshops, with an emphasis on the dialectical relationship between writing and thinking. Participants worked both individually and collaboratively on texts from a range of fields and genres, and the program’s approach to inquiry and education were presented, practiced, and discussed. The working group was particularly concerned to explore the challenges and opportunities presented by this kind of cross-cultural conversation.

Participants from Al-Quds included Ziad Abdeen, Asma Alemam, Karim Awwad, Ahmad Da’mas, Hassan Dweek, Ayman Khalifa, Lucy Nusseibeh, Tala Abu Rahama, Rana Surkhi, Omar Surkhi, and Tala Abu Rahama.

The team at Al-Quds will continue to work on developing a program in Arabic in the coming weeks and a contingent of faculty will come to New York in July for a week-long series of workshops with Bartscherer, Retallack, and the new faculty who will be teaching in Annandale in August. This group will also be joined by two instructors from the American University of Central Asia, which has a joint-degree arrangement with Bard College.

The pilot Language and Thinking program is expected to launch at Al-Quds University in September, 2011.

Joan Retallack in ARTFORUM’s best of 2010

Joan Retallack, Program Director Emerita’s recent book, Procedural Elegies/Western Civ Cont’d/ was selected as one of ARTFORUM‘s 13 best books of 2010.

Click here for a link to the ARTFORUM write-up.>>

Here’s a review from The Brooklyn Rail.

by Helena Fitzgerald

Procedural Elegies/Western Civ Cont’d
Joan Retallack
Roof, 2010

Procedures regularize, give to an experience a repeatable form. In Joan Retallack’s new collection of works written between 1980 and 2010, Procedural Elegies/Western Civ Cont’d, meaning is located in formal construction. The concern of the collection is procedure, or form, itself, as much as any of the myriad other themes examined and played with throughout these dizzyingly inventive pieces. Retallack references Eliot’s Wasteland in the second poem in the collection; by then I was already waiting for the reference. This collection performs a playful, challenging, and wildly vulnerable confrontation with the entire syllabus of Western Civilization (figured very particularly here as a syllabus) unavoidably similar to Eliot’s famous confrontation with the whole of literature, history, and loss. Retallack, at one point, defines poetics as “an extreme noticing of how language works,” and this kind of “extreme noticing” permeates her work, in pieces that turn in on, examine and unravel themselves, their own procedures and meanings.

The title links the concept of procedure to elegy. In one particularly stunning piece, “AID/I/SAPPEARANCE,” mourning is made procedural, the experience of loss captured absolutely in formal construction. The same seven lines are repeated, but with each repetition, particular letters disappear, until nothing recognizable or intelligible is left. The personal is crammed, heartbreakingly, into a formal container demonstrating the process of loss.

“(Procedure: instructions for how to go on: what Beckett didn’t give Didi and Gogo: what Wittgenstein gave himself in the Tractatus (numerical momentum), etc)”

In “N Plus Zero,” after numerous other definitions of “procedure” and “procedural,” Retallack offers this simplest one: instructions for how to go on. This definition links the procedural and the elegiac as form and content. We give procedures to tragedy in order to be able to go on from tragedy.

Procedures and formal invention are, however, as intensely playful here as they are elegiac. Extreme procedural approaches are also, of course, games. The more formal something is, the more playful it becomes; after all, it’s the rules that make a game a game. Playful spiralings into language and form abound, such as the brief, throwaway “palimpsestina,” in which the author takes the sestina form and halves it reflectively, using three ending words instead of six, so the second three lines repeat the first three backward, marrying the constraints of palimpsest and sestina.

Another example of this academic game playing is the imagined dialogue “Witt & Stein,” in which quotations from Wittgenstein and Gertrude Stein fall into one another, forced to speak in a dialectic that only further confuses itself, never resolving. Dialogue, intersection, and interaction recur throughout the collection. It’s a performance of intersections and intentional collisions. Disparate thinkers and approaches are impressed into dialogue with one another and personal, banal events crash into historical and intellectual discussions. The title piece, “Western Civ, Cont’d,” chronicles unexpectedly concurrent events throughout history, while at the same time veering into the intensely personal in interrupting sections titled “Breakdance Lecture.” The formal structures break down into the personal and the confessional, but even that breakdown has a procedure to it. In her collaborative piece with Forrest Gander, “Coimbra Poem of Poetry & Violence: Grief’s Rubies,” she and Gander “write through” a conference at the Universidade de Coimbra. This piece presents their combined marginalia from notes on lectures, ranging suddenly from the esoteric to the pedestrian and back again. Here, as in all of the work in this collection, the suddenly personal runs parallel and simultaneous to the academic, and each speaks to the other in a constantly shifting dialogue.

Retallack’s work invites and frustrates understanding. That frustration, the tease and refusal of easy access is, however, part of the high-stakes fun in its reading and subsequent rereading. To attempt inroads to it, to try to take apart and piece back together these performances, dissections, and elegies, is a heartbreakingly playful endeavor, much like the author’s writing itself.

The Brooklyn Rail

LTP faculty help welcome prospective students to Bard

Over 100 prospective Bard students—juniors and seniors in high school—signed up to attend sample Language and Thinking sessions during the Fall Conference on Admissions, 11 October 2010 on the Annandale campus. Eight Language and Thinking faculty led sessions in which students worked with texts by Franz Kafka and Hannah Arendt and reflected on their options for future study.

In August of 2010, Catherine Taylor, who has taught with the program since 2006, led a workshop for high school guidance counselors in which they worked with Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis” to explore the role of guidance counselors in helping students to choose between the comforts of the familiar and the challenges of the unfamiliar as they consider options for college.

These events were part of an ongoing collaboration between Language and Thinking and the Office of Admissions aimed at increasing awareness of the program through workshops that employ the Language and Thinking approach to address issues of concern to college counselors and prospective students.