David Bates

Professor, Chair Graduate Admissions

I received my PhD in European History from the University of Chicago. Since coming to Berkeley in 1999, I have been working on two main research tracks: one on the history of legal and political ideas, and the other on the relationship between technology, science, and the history of human cognition. My undergraduate courses and graduate seminars are usually divided between these two main topic areas. My new book project will bring these interests closer together, as my research now focuses on the connections between reason, technology, war, and political organizations as they develop in...

Anthony Cascardi

Professor, Sidney and Margaret Ancker Distinguished Professor

Anthony J. Cascardi is Professor of Rhetoric, Comparative Literature, and Spanish, and served for ten years as Dean of Arts and Humanities. He is also former Director of the Townsend Center for the Humanities and of the Arts Research Center. Cascardi’s research interests include the relations between literature and philosophy; aesthetic theory; the novel; and early modern Europe. His books include The Subject of Modernity; Consequences of Enlightenment; Cervantes, Literature, and the Discourse of Politics; and The Cambridge...

Pheng Cheah


I am completing a book entitled The Politics and Rights of Life: Toward a Biopolitical Theory of Human Rightsand a collection of essays on the changing character of power in contemporary globalization and the role of culture and comparison in these transformations with special reference to postcolonial Asia. Also in progress is a book on globalization and world cinema from the three Chinas that focuses on the films of Jia Zhangke, Tsai Ming-liang and Fruit Chan and includes interviews with the three directors.

Education: PhD,...

Marianne Constable


Marianne Constable has published broadly on a range of topics in legal rhetoric and philosophy. Her most recent book, entitled “Our Word is Our Bond: How Legal Speech Acts,” (Stanford University Press, 2014) shows how legal utterances, in speech and writing, are forms of law-in-action. She is currently working on the “new unwritten law” that ostensibly exonerated women who killed their husbands in Chicago a century ago, as a way of exploring the rhetoric of law and the rhetoric of history. She is also very interested in the written dialogue form, in the rhetoric of envirornment and...

Samera Esmeir

Associate Professor, Co-Director of Projects, International Consortium of Critical Theory Programs

My research and teaching are at the intersection of legal and political thought, Middle East studies, critical theory, and colonial and post-colonial studies. One ongoing intellectual focus has been to examine how late-modern colonialism introduced juridical logics and grammars that in turn shaped modalities of political praxis, which have not only persisted into the twentieth century, but have also come to foreclose other modalities of politics in the present. The concrete terms of this closure and the possibilities that remain uncaptured by it are the two motivating threads of my work....

Shannon Jackson

Professor, Cyrus and Michele Hadidi Chair in the Humanities

Shannon Jackson is the Cyrus and Michelle Hadidi Professor of Rhetoric and of Theater, Dance and Performance Studies, and former Associate Vice Chancellor for the Arts + Design. Jackson’s research focuses on two overlapping domains: 1) collaborations across visual, performing, and media art forms and 2) the role of the arts in social institutions and in social change. Her most recent books are Back Stages: Essays Across Art, Performance, and Public Life (Northwestern University Press, 2022), and The Human Condition: Media Art from the Kramlich Collection (Thames &...

Michael Mascuch

Associate Professor

My research and teaching concerns the documentary functions and effects of photographic images and narrative discourse. I have specialized in the field of autobiography, or “egodocuments,” and published a monograph and a co-edited collection, both on the history of autobiographical texts and discourses. My current research is an interpretive history of the political uses of photography in modern Cambodia, with specific reference to the epochal Khmer Rouge catastrophe of the 1970s. Organized around the notorious S-21 prisoner identification photos, it looks at the period of Cambodian...

Ramona Naddaff

Associate Professor, Head Graduate Advisor, Director, The Art of Writing, Doreen B. Townsend Center for the Humanities

Ramona Naddaff’s research and teaching interests include history of ancient rhetorical theory; philosophy and literature; history of philosophy; theory of the novel; and literary censorship. In her book, Exiling the Poets: The Production of Censorship in Plato’s Republic, Naddaff offers an interpretation of the ancient quarrel between poetry and philosophy. Underscoring not only the repressive but also the productive dimension of literature censorship, Naddaff brings to light Plato’s fundamental ambivalence about the value of poetic discourse in philosophical and...

Fumi Okiji

Assistant Professor

I arrived at the academy by way of the London jazz scene in which I took an active part as a vocalist and improvisor. I work across black study, critical theory, and sound and music studies. My research and teaching looks to black expression for ways to understand modern and contemporary life, which is to say, I explore works and practices for what they can provide by way of social theory. For instance, my book Jazz as Critique: Adorno and Black Expression Revisited (Stanford University Press, 2018) is a sustained engagement with Theodor Adorno’s idea concerning the critical...

James I. Porter

Professor, Department Chair, The Irving Stone Chair in Literature, Distinguished Professor of Rhetoric and Classics, Program in Critical Theory


Latest Research

I began teaching at the University of Michigan in Classics and Comparative Literature (1986-2007), and then at UC Irvine, Classics and Comparative Literature (2007-2015), where I was Director of Critical Theory from 2014-2015. I have held visiting professorships at Princeton and Bristol University (UK) and have also taught at UCLA. I am...