Jonathan Arac returned to Pitt in 2006 as Andrew Mellon Professor of English after five years at Columbia University, where he served as a department chair. Since 1979, he has served on the editorial group of boundary 2, an international journal of literature and culture, edited at the University of Pittsburgh, and since 2001 he has chaired the Advisory Committee for the Successful Societies Program of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research. He is author of six books and many essays on American and British literature. He has also edited six volumes of original essays by many hands on topics in criticism and theory. His current work focuses especially on the novel in the United States and on questions of language in American writing.
Through his experiences at other institutions, Professor Arac has seen the benefits a humanities center brings to university faculty. It offers a showcase to honor and to disseminate the most exciting and innovative work, and by this means it inspires and strengthens ongoing projects.
Sabine von Dirke is an associate professor in the Department of German. Her scholarship investigates post-war German aesthetic culture’s status and potential for intervention into the broader cultural and socio-political discourses shaping contemporary society. Reflecting her education in both Europe and the United States, she has published on canonized German texts as well as popular and im/migrant cultural production. Her scholarship has explored countercultural challenges to the concept of representative democracy, the nation, and the significance of US popular culture for identity formation in post-war West Germany and Europe. Her current research pursues the practice of wage-labor as a central category for the constitution of subjectivity in Occidental Modernity under current pressures of globalization. She views the humanities as particularly well-positioned to critically reflect upon the problematic status of the human being in the contemporary formation of capitalism. As the associate director, she aspires to bring scholars from across the disciplines together to bring their knowledge to bear on addressing crucial problems of the contemporary world.