Masha Gessen is a journalist and the author of ten books of nonfiction, most recently The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia (October 2017). She is also the author of the national bestseller The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin (2012). She is a contributing opinion writer to The New York Times and a frequent contributor to The New York Review of Books, among other publications. She has received numerous awards, including a 2017 Guggenheim Fellowship, a Carnegie Millennial Fellowship (2015-2016), a Nieman Fellowship (2003-2004), and the 2017 Overseas Press Club Award for Best Commentary. She serves as vice-president of PEN America. Gessen was born in Moscow and immigrated to the U.S. with her family in 1981, at the age of 14. She returned to Moscow as a correspondent ten years later and stayed, becoming a Russian-language journalist in addition to her work for American magazines. She re-immigrated to the U.S. in 2013, after her family was targeted by Putin’s antigay campaign. She lives in New York City.
Siri Hustvedt is the author of a book of poetry, six novels, four books of essays, and a non-fiction work about the quandaries of psychiatric and neurological diagnoses. In 2012 she received the International Gabarron Prize for Thought and Humanities. Her most recent novel, The Blazing World was nominated for the 2014 Man Booker Prize and won The Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Fiction. She has a PhD in English literature from Columbia University and is a lecturer in psychiatry at the Dewitt Wallace Institute for the History of Psychiatry at Weil Medical School of Cornell University in New York City. Her work has been translated into over thirty languages.
Ulrich Baer is a professor of German and Comparative Literature and serves as Vice Provost for Faculty and Undergraduate Academic Affairs in the Provost’s Office. In this capacity he works to support NYU’s faculty’s research, teaching, and other professional activities, coordinate the arts and humanities in all of NYU’s schools and institutes, and strengthen NYU’s ongoing effort to create the most diverse and inclusive community of outstanding faculty, students, and staff. He oversees several of the Provostial institutes and centers, serves on the NYU Trustees Academic Affairs Committee, and co-chairs the Faculty Senate Academic Affairs Committee and the Graduate Committee. Co-Director of the Center for the Humanities at NYU since 2014, Dr. Baer is Faculty Director in 2016.
From 2012 until 2017, he served as NYU’s Vice Provost for Faculty, Arts, Humanities, and Diversity. From 2007 until 2012, he served as Vice Provost for Globalization and Multicultural Affairs, overseeing NYU’s network of Global Academic Sites around the world.
Dr. Baer received his B.A. from Harvard in 1991, and his Ph.D. from Yale in Comparative Literature in 1995, and was first appointed at NYU as Assistant Professor of German in 1996. A widely published author, editor, and translator, he is an expert on poetry, literary theory, and photography, and has published extensively on these and other topics. He has lectured in many locations around the world on the globalization of higher education, and on diversity as the means to institutional excellence. He is the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including a Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, NYU’s Golden Dozen Teaching Award (twice), a Getty Research Fellowship, and an Alexander von Humboldt Fellowship. Among his books are We Are But a Moment, The Rilke Alphabet, Beggar’s Chicken: Stories from Shanghai, Hannah Arendt zwischen den Disziplinen (co-editor), The Claims of Literature: A Shoshana Felman Reader (co-editor), Rainer Maria Rilke: Letters on Life (translator and editor), Spectral Evidence: The Photography of Trauma, the anthology 110 Stories: New York Writes After September 11, and Remnants of Song: Trauma and the Experience of Modernity in Charles Baudelaire and Paul Celan.