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New Hires Help Arts and Humanities Sharpen, Showcase Students’ Talents

Teaching visual and performing arts in a virtual way is challenging at best, but despite the obstacles presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, the School of Arts and Humanities (A&H) at The University of Texas at Dallas is offering a full range of classes, including music, art, drama and dance courses.

Dr. Nils Roemer

“I have more than 30 faculty members who are delivering courses with a face-to-face component,” said Dr. Nils Roemer, interim dean of A&H and director of the Ackerman Center for Holocaust Studies. “We are doing that because it’s the most effective way to teach drawing, theater, dance and many of the activities involved with the visual and performing arts. You have to appreciate the huge effort our faculty are putting forth this semester.”

While in-person concerts and events will not be held this semester, Roemer pointed to creative ways that professors are sharing their students’ talents. For example, Shakespeare’s comedy “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” will be recorded at various campus locations — with appropriate social distancing and safety precautions — and will be shown as a movie online beginning in November.

Roemer, who also is the Stan and Barbara Rabin Professor in Holocaust Studies, said he is excited about the four new faculty members who have joined A&H this fall. He said they all bring not only scholarly knowledge and experience, but also a passion for their fields.

“They think about academics as not just being about teaching and research, but also being part of our society and its debates and conflicts,” he said.

In addition to visual and performing arts, A&H offers programs in history and philosophy, and in literature and languages.


New Tenured and Tenure-Track Faculty

Dr. S. Deborah Kang

Dr. S. Deborah Kang, associate professor of history, Fellow of the Anne Stark and Chester Watson Professorship of History

Education: PhD in history, University of California, Berkeley, 2005; MA in jurisprudence and social policy, UC Berkeley, 1997; BA in European literature and history, Cornell University, 1992

Previous position: associate professor of history at California State University San Marcos; immigration policy fellow, U.S. Immigration Policy Center at UC San Diego; and visiting scholar, Center for Comparative Immigration Studies at UC San Diego

Research interests: immigration history and policy, Western and borderlands history, U.S. legal history, race and ethnic history

“There’s a sense of community in the border region. That’s what borderlands studies is all about — the conflicts and cooperation that occur between nation-states along their international borders. Throughout the world, something distinctive happens between nation-states along these boundaries.”


Dr. Amy Kerner

Dr. Amy Kerner, assistant professor of Holocaust and human rights studies, Fellow of the Jacqueline and Michael Wald Professorship in Holocaust Studies

Education: PhD in history, Brown University, 2019; MSc in international history, London School of Economics and Political Science, 2011; MA in world history, Columbia University, 2011; BA in comparative literature, Brown University, 2006

Previous position: research fellow at the Jean and Samuel Frankel Center for Judaic Studies, University of Michigan

Research interests: modern Europe and modern Latin America, political violence and its legacies, the cultural practices and transformations of immigrants, refugees and diasporas

“I am pleased to be in a role that brings Holocaust studies and human rights together, with a focus on Europe and Latin America. That’s unusual, and an excellent fit for me. The possibility of being connected to both a history department and to a Holocaust studies center, and to bridge those fields, is very exciting.”


Steven V. Randall

Steven V. Randall, assistant professor of visual and performing arts (sculpture)

Education: MFA in sculpture + extended media, Virginia Commonwealth University, 2016; BFA in painting and sculpture, Alfred University in New York, 2010

Previous position: sculpture fellow, Roswell Artist-in-Residence Program, New Mexico

Research interests: interdisciplinary sculpture, materiality, object-oriented ontology, process philosophy, and obsolescence

“One of the most unique aspects of being an artist is being able to integrate diverse fields of research and different interests into this ambiguous and polymorphic discipline we call ‘art.’ UT Dallas is unique in its position to support that kind of cross-pollination — that is, approaching and processing subjects through various lenses. Opening up collaborative doors and divergent ways of thinking should prove useful and valuable.”


Dr. Davis Smith-Brecheisen

Dr. Davis Smith-Brecheisen, assistant professor of literature

Education: PhD in literature, University of Illinois at Chicago, 2019; MA in humanities, University of Chicago, 2008; MA in international commerce and public policy, George Mason University, 2006; BS in marine transportation, U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, 2000

Previous position: visiting lecturer, University of Illinois at Chicago

Research interests: American literature, with a focus on modernism

“When you think of modernism as a term of art, rather than as a period, it becomes much more capacious to think about it as a problem that persists in art into the present. Thinking about modernism then becomes about trying to figure out the ways that different novelists and different artists are trying to solve a problem of art, in a certain way. That’s how I think about modernism and is why it’s so interesting to me.”


New Faculty Series

News Center is publishing profiles of tenured and tenure-track professors who have recently joined the University. The following school profiles have been published:

School of Arts, Technology, and Emerging Communication

School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences

Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].