Dean Fitzgerald announces appointments to SHASS leadership roles 


Congratulations to new SHASS leaders 

Deborah Fitzgerald, Kenan Sahin Dean of the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences, has announced the appointment of eight faculty members to leadership roles for the School. “I hope that you will join me in thanking the outgoing leadership for their fantastic work, and in welcoming the incoming leadership to their new roles," said Fitzgerald. "The School is extremely fortunate to have such dedicated and effective faculty."


The following six appointments become effective on July 1, 2013:

Alex Byrne, associate head of Philosophy

Peter Child, head of Music and Theater Arts

Mary Fuller, head of Literature

Melissa Nobles, head of Political Science

David Pesetsky, head of Linguistics and Philosophy

Emma Teng, director of the Program in Women's and Gender Studies

Two additional appointments are already in effect:  

Ian Condry became head of Foreign Languages and Literatures effective January 1, 2013.

James Paradis, who has served as interim head of Comparative Media Studies since 2010, now serves as head of Comparative Media Studies/Writing, which became one unit on July 1, 2012.


Alex Byrne

Associate Head of Philosophy

Byrne, who succeeds Richard Holton as associate head of Philosophy, is the co-editor of Disjunctivism: Contemporary Readings (MIT Press, 2008), Fact and Value: Essays on Ethics and Metaphysics for Judith Jarvis Thomson (MIT Press, 2001), and the two-volume Readings on Color (MIT Press, 1997). An expert in philosophy of mind, metaphysics, and epistemology, he joined the MIT faculty in 1994.

“A chair couldn't wish for a better department. We have a particularly strong Ph.D. program and teaching MIT undergraduates is always a challenge in the best possible way,” Byrne said. “We offer a diverse range of undergraduate classes, from the ethics and politics of food to the philosophy of quantum mechanics. At least once in a lifetime it's good to question one's most fundamental assumptions, and that's what philosophy encourages students to do.”

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Peter Child   

Head of Music and Theater Arts


Award-winning composer Child succeeds Professor Evan Ziporyn as head of Music and Theater Arts. He previously chaired the department from 1996 to 1999. In addition to his position as Class of 1949 professor of music at MIT, he has served as composer-in-residence with the New England Philharmonic Orchestra and the Albany Symphony Orchestra. A native of England, Child joined the MIT faculty in 1986 and was named a MacVicar Faculty Fellow in 2003 in honor of his outstanding undergraduate teaching. Child spent the past year on sabbatical in Berlin, where he has composed three new works, including “Dialogue” for solo flute, which won the Association for the Promotion of New Music Call for Scores competition. 

“Music and Theater Arts is at an exciting moment in its history: An influx of young faculty has expanded the intellectual and educational reach of the department in ways that were undreamed of when I was last chair,” Child said. “We are energized by the knowledge that what we provide to MIT students—beginners and extraordinarily advanced alike—is of vital importance to them…. It is an exciting time to be taking over the leadership of the section.



Ian Condry

Head of Foreign Languages and Literatures

Condry, who succeeds Professor Shigeru Miyagawa as head of FL&L, is a cultural anthropologist who specializes in media, globalization, social movements, and cultural exchange between the United States and Japan. An associate professor of Japanese cultural studies and of comparative media studies, he has been a member of the MIT faculty since 2002. He will be promoted to full professor as of July 1. His first book, Hip-Hop Japan: Rap and the Paths of Cultural Globalization (Duke University Press), was published in October 2006. His second, The Soul of Anime (Duke University Press), came out earlier this year. 

“We are strengthening our offerings in culture and language from a multidisciplinary perspective, with experts in media, popular culture, history, ethnic diversity, and gender relations. Our goal is to use the idea of culture not simply to refer to patterns of difference but more centrally as a tool for deepening our engagement with others,” Condry said. “In a time of new media and global connection, there has never been a greater need to rethink both what distinguishes others from us, and what draws us all together.”


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MIT scholar's new book heralds 'creative collabortation'
Condry discusses anime's global reach 
More about Ian Condry



Mary Fuller

Head of Literature

An expert in early modern exploration and travel, Fuller succeeds James Buzard as head of Literature. She is also completing a term as associate chair of the MIT faculty. Her books include Voyages in Print: English Travel to America, 1576-1624 (Cambridge University Press, 1995; paperback, 2007) and Remembering the Early Modern Voyage: English Narratives in the Age of European Expansion (Palgrave, 2008). She has also published articles on Caribbean poetry, exploration narratives and video games, early modern circumnavigations, and Renaissance narratives of travel to Russia, West Africa, Guiana, Newfoundland, and Istanbul. Fuller joined the MIT faculty in 1989, and in 2010 she was awarded the James A. (1945) and Ruth Levitan Prize in the Humanities.

“I've been fascinated to watch MIT's plans for online education unfold during my time in faculty governance, partly because we're really thinking—as an institution—about what we want for education on campus. So many of my colleagues in Literature are renowned teachers as well as innovative thinkers—I'd love for us to contribute to thinking through what these initiatives can do for the humanities, and vice versa. It's a puzzle waiting to be solved,” Fuller said.

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Mary Fuller awarded the Levitan Prize in the Humanities
More about Mary Fuller



Melissa Nobles

Head of Political Science

The Arthur and Ruth Sloan Professor of Political Science, Nobles succeeds Richard Locke as department head. The author of Shades of Citizenship: Race and the Census in Modern Politics (Stanford University Press, 2000) and The Politics of Official Apologies (Cambridge University Press, 2008), Nobles is an expert in the comparative study of racial and ethnic politics, as well as issues of retrospective justice. A graduate of Brown University, she holds master’s and doctoral degrees in political science from Yale University. Nobles has held fellowships at Boston University's Institute for Race and Social Division and Harvard University's Radcliffe Center for Advanced Study.

"I'm taking over at an especially exciting time for our department,” Nobles said. “Over the past four years, we have been rebuilding, with the addition of, in total, nine new faculty members. These hires amplify our department's core commitments to excellence, rigor, and relevance. Because we are a relatively small department when compared to our competitors, we deeply value and actively encourage scholarship that bridges subfields. As head, I intend to lead the department through the process of reconstituting ourselves, as we integrate our newer members. Their ideas and voices are crucial to maintaining and deepening an open and collaborative intellectual community.”




James Paradis

Head of Comparative Media Studies/Writing

The new head of Comparative Media Studies/Writing, Paradis is also the Robert M. Metcalfe Professor of Writing and Humanistic Studies. Before becoming interim head of CMS in 2010, he led the Program in Writing and Humanistic Studies for many years. Paradis is a cultural historian who studies cultural change arising out of the interactions of societies with scientific innovations and new technologies. He has explored these themes in numerous books, articles and edited collections, including T.H. Huxley: Man's Place in Nature; Evolution, and Ethics (with G. Williams); Samuel Butler: Victorian against the Grain; and Science as Cultural Authority in Victorian England (with Suzy Anger).

“I think media are profoundly changing the way we view ourselves,” he has said, nothing that CMS/Writing is an exciting department within the School. “It gets [students] thinking about the culture that they’re actually living in now and where it may be heading.”



David Pesetsky

Head of Linguistics and Philosophy

The author of three groundbreaking books on syntactic theory as well as numerous articles that have contributed to the understanding of Universal Grammar, Pesetsky succeeds Richard Holton as head of Linguistics and Philosophy. The Ferrari P. Ward Professor of Modern Languages and Linguistics, Pesetsky recently completed two years as associate head of Linguistics. A Ph.D. graduate of MIT, he joined the Institute’s faculty in 1988 and was named a MacVicar Faculty Fellow in 2005.

“MIT is one of the exciting places on earth to do linguistics and home to one of the world's most eminent philosophy programs as well. My most obvious job is to make sure it stays that way, by preserving the focus on research, education, and supportive advising that has made us great, while not standing still in light of new questions, discoveries, and challenges,” Pesetsky said. “By strengthening our undergraduate programs, outreach to schools, and interdisciplinary initiatives here at MIT, I would like to let everyone to know how fascinating linguistics and philosophy is, and to come calling when they have the kinds of questions that philosophers and linguists are uniquely qualified to ponder (and sometimes even answer).


Suggested Links
Q&A with David Pesetsky
More about David Pesetsky



Emma Teng

Director of the Program in Women's and Gender Studies

Named a MacVicar Faculty Fellow earlier this year for her outstanding undergraduate teaching, mentoring, and educational innovation, Teng succeeds Sally Haslanger as director of WGS. She holds three degrees from Harvard University: an AB, received in 1989; an AM, received in 1992, and a PhD, received in 1997. She became an assistant professor in MIT’s Foreign Languages and Literatures section in 1998, and an associate professor in 2002. In 2012, she began a second appointment in the School’s History section.

"I am so thrilled to become the next director of WGS at MIT, which has been a thriving and vibrant program under the directorship of Professor Sally Haslanger and WGS Program Administrator Heidy González. I am especially excited because I wrote my undergraduate thesis on the history of feminism in China and Taiwan, so this feels like I am coming full circle,” Teng said. “WGS provided a stimulating and welcoming interdisciplinary community for me when I began teaching at MIT as a junior faculty member and … one of my chief goals as WGS director will be to continue this tradition."