Philosophy Department

303 College Hall
600 Forbes Ave
Pittsburgh, PA 15282
Phone: 412 396 6500
Fax: 412 396 5353

Ron Polansky

Daniel Selcer
Director of Graduate Studies

Michael Harrington
Director of Undergraduate Studies

Joan Thompson
Administrative Assistant

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News, Events and Awards

Fall 2014–Spring 2015

Recent Awards

For more extensive information about the awards and the award winners from this year, see the University’s article.

Martin Krahn (pictured above) and Paul Zipfel both received Fulbright Scholarships and will be studying in Germany.

Bethany Somma is the recipient of a three year research fellowship from the Munich School of Ancient Philosophy. She will be doing her research at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich.

Tristana Martin-Rubio received the 2015 DAAD intensive language grant and will be studying at the Goethe Institute in Berlin over the summer.

Alessio Rotundo was awarded the Chateaubriand Spring Fellowship for Spring 2016.

Matthew Lovett was awarded the 2014–15 Charles Dougherty Graduate Philosophy Teaching Award.

Matthew Yaw received the 2015 Philosophy Essay Prize, for his paper, “Nietzsche’s Paean to War.”

Anthony Costantino was awarded the Philosophy Undergraduate General Excellence Award.

Recent Placements

Dr. Tom Sparrow will be an Assistant Professor of Philosophy (TT) at Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania starting in August of 2016.

Dr. Christina Rawls will be a full time faculty lecturer at John Carroll University in Ohio. Dr. Rawls defended her dissertation, “Spinoza’s Ethology: Recognizing the Dynamic Transitions Between Imagination, Reason, and Intuition,” this year.

Dr. Becky Vartabedian will be an Assistant Professor of Philosophy (TT) at Regis University in Colorado. Dr. Vartabedian defended her dissertation, “Rethinking Multiplicity After Deleuze and Badiou,” this year.

Joseph Cimakasky will be an Assistant Professor of Philosophy (TT) at Cabrini College in Pennsylvania beginning in Fall 2015. Dr. Cimakasky defended his dissertation, "All of a Sudden: The Role of exaiphnés in Plato's Dialogues," last year.

Ryan Johnson is currently a Post-doctoral Fellow/Visiting Assistant Professor (non-TT) at Elon University.

Congratulations to our new PhD graduates (Class of 2015)

Dr. Patrick Craig
The A Priori Nature of the Political or Democracy and Scientific Method in Thomas Hobbes
Director: Prof. Daniel Selcer
Initial placement: Associate Lecturer (non-TT), The University of Akron

Dr. Nathan Eckstrand
The Event of Revolution
Director: Prof. Fred Evans
1st job search underway

Dr. Stanton Marlan
The Philosophers' Stone: The Alchemical Imagination and the Logical Life of the Soul
Director: Prof. Tom Rockmore
Private psychoanalytic practice

Dr. George W. Shea, IV.
Inheriting Nietzsche: The Frankfurt School and Foucault on the Foundation of Critique
Director: Prof. James Swindal
Initial placement: Assistant Professor (non-TT), Misericordia University

Dr. Dana Trusso
The Erotic Charms of Platonic Discourse: Mythmaking, Love Potions, and Role Reversals
Director: Prof. Patrick Miller
1st job search underway

Fall 2013–Spring 2014

Recent Placements

Brock Bahler will be a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Religious Studies Department at the University of Pittsburgh in 2014–15. Dr. Bahler defended his dissertation, “Levinas and Merleau-Ponty: Traces of Childlike Peace in a World at War,” earlier this year.

Ryan Johnson will be a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Philosophy Department at The Rochester Institute of Technology in 2014–15. Dr. Johnson defended his dissertation, “The Problem: The Theory of Ideas in Ancient Atomism and Deleuze,” in 2013.

H.A. Nethery IV will be an Assistant Professor of Philosophy (tenure-track) at Florida Southern College beginning in Fall 2014. Dr. Nethery defended his dissertation, “Husserl and Foucault on the Subject: the Companions,” in 2013.

David Hoinski will be a Visiting Assistant Professor of Philosophy, West Virginia University in 2014–15. Dr. Hoinski defended his dissertation, “Humanlife and the Advent of Philosophy: A Theory of Philosophical Autobiography,” in 2013.

Congratulations to our new Ph.D. graduates (Class of 2014)

Dr. Brock Bahler
Merleau-Ponty and Levinas: Traces of Childlike Peace in a World at War
Director: Prof. Fred Evans
Initial placement: Visiting Assistant Professor (non-TT), University of Pittsburgh

Dr. Joseph Cimakasky
All of a Sudden: The Role of exaiphnés in Plato's Dialogues
Director: Prof. Ron Polansky
Initial placement: Adjunct, Duquesne University
Current placement: Assistant Professor (TT), Cabrini College

Dr. John Fritz
Character, Time, and Place in the Dialogues of Plato
Director: Prof. Ron Polansky
Initial placement: Adjunct, Duquesne University

Dr. James Haile
Black Existential Philosophy: Truth in Virtue of Self-Discovery
Director: Prof. James Swindal
Initial placement: Visiting Assistant Professor (non-TT), Dickinson College

Dr. David Hoinski
Humanlife and the Advent of Philosophy: A Theory of Philosophical Autobiography
Director: Prof. Ron Polansky
Initial placement: Visiting Assistant Professor (non-TT), West Virginia University

Dr. Ryan Johnson
The Problem: The Theory of Ideas in Ancient Atomism and Deleuze
Director: Prof. Daniel Selcer
Initial placement: Visiting Assistant Professor (non-TT), Rochester Institute of Technology
Current placement: Post-doctoral Fellow/Visiting Assistant Professor (non-TT), Elon University

Dr. Christopher Mountenay
In the Shadow of Anaximander: Philosophical Temperaments and Schopenhauerian Pessimism in Nietzsche’s ‘Philosophy in the Tragic Age of the Greeks’
Director: Prof. Patrick Miller
Initial placement: Adjunct, Duquesne University

Dr. Harry A. Nethery IV
Husserl and Foucault on the Subject: The Companions
Director: Prof. Lanei Rodemeyer
Initial placement: Assistant Professor of Philosophy (TT), Florida Southern College

Dr. James Stover
Aristotle’s Ethics: A Viable System for Today's Life and Business
Director: Prof. Ron Polansky
Initial placement: Instructor (non-TT), Wheeling Jesuit University
Current placement: Assistant Professor of Philosophy (TT), Wheeling Jesuit University

Fellowship Recipients

Congratulations to Boram Jeong and Jim Bahoh, both of whom received the McAnulty Dissertation Fellowship for 2014–2015.

Dr. Thomas Rockmore appointed Professor Emeritus

The Philosophy Department is pleased to announce that Dr. Rockmore has received the title of Professor Emeritus of the McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts. During his 28 years at the university he has published over 20 books and over 400 scholarly articles (many of which have been translated into other languages). Dr. Rockmore had previously held the position of Distinguished McAnulty Professor of Philosophy.

Congratulations to Bethany Somma, winner of our 2013 essay award competition!

Congratulations to Bethany; her essay  “Adoptees and Philosophers: Searching for Self and Stability in Stoic Therapy,” won this year’s essay award competition and was presented earlier this year at one of the Graduate Students in Philosophy (GSiP) colloquia as well.

Congratulations to Andrew Jussaume, Recipient of the 2014 Charles S. Dougherty Graduate Teaching Award!

We are very proud of Andrew Jussaume and the excellent work he has done and will continue to do.

Fall 2012–Spring 2013

Jacob Greenstine receives Fulbright Fellowship.

We are pleased to offer congratulations to Ph.D. student Jacob Greenstine for his award of a 2013–14 Fulbright Fellowship.  He will spend the year in Kassel, Germany, conducting research for his dissertation on non-being in Aristotle's Metaphysics with Prof. Dr. Gottfried Heinemann.

The Department is thrilled to announce the addition of two new faculty members in Fall 2013.  We extend a warm welcome to Dr. Paula Schwebel and to Dr. Tom Eyers.  Dr. Schwebel earned her Ph.D. from the University of Toronto and is completing one year as a visiting scholar at the Institute for Philosophy and Institute for Jewish Studies at the University of Potsdam.  She will be teaching a Basic Philosophical Questions course in Fall 2013 as well as a graduate course in the spring.  Dr. Schwebel specializes in 20th Century and Contemporary Continental philosophy, Frankfurt School Critical Theory, and Modern Jewish Thought.   Dr. Eyers received his Ph.D. from Kingston University in London and recently completed a Post-Doctorate Fellowship at Washington University in St. Louis. Dr. Eyers specializes in contemporary French philosophy, psychoanalysis (particularly Lacan), and Marxism. Dr. Eyers will begin teaching classes as an Assistant Professor in the fall. He will be teaching a course on Contemporary Philosophy as well as offering Basic Philosophical Questions courses. Dr. Eyers’ published works include his books, Lacan and the Concept of the Real and the upcoming Post-Rationalism: Psychoanalysis, Epistemology, and Marxism in Post-War France (May 2013). Dr. Eyers’ latest interview for his upcoming book can be found here.

On April 8, Prof. Dan Selcer and the undergraduates in his Early Modern Philosophy courses visited the Posner Collection at Carnegie Mellon University to examine rare first editions of works by Andreas Vesalius, Nicolaus Copernicus, Galileo Galilee, Francis Bacon, René Descartes, and Robert Hooke. With the support of a 2011 NEH Teaching Development Fellowship, Selcer rebuilt this course to be one focused one the interpenetration of philosophy and science, the inseparability of image and text, and the inextricability of experiment from thought in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

Congratulations to our new Ph.D. graduates (Class of 2013)

Dr. Chelsea Harry
Time (Chronos) in Aristotle’s Natural Philosophy and its Place in Early Naturphilosophie (1750–1800)
Director: Prof. Ron Polansky
Assistant Professor (TT), Southern Connecticut State University

Dr. Kamal Shlbei
Sadra and Hegel on the Relationship between Essence/Existence and Subject/Object
Director: Prof. Jennifer Bates
Professor & Chair (tenure-equivalent), Al-Asmarya University

Congratulations to the following award winners:

Sila Ozkara has received the 2013 Phi Kappa Phi honor society Love of Learning award. She plans to use the award to purchase an edition of Hegel’s works in German.

Ryan Johnson received the Graduate School’s Award for Excellence in Scholarship.

Jacob Graham is the recipient of Duquesne’s first Distinguished Dissertation Award in the Humanities Division for his work, “The Flourishing Self in Aristotle and the Authentic Self in Heidegger.” Jacob defended in March of 2012, his dissertation was directed by Dr. Michael Harrington.

Martin Krahn earned a DAAD Intensive Language Course Grant. He will be studying at the Goethe Intsitut in Berlin from June 3rd to August 3rd.

Teaching Awards

Becky Vartabedian


Congratulations to Becky Vartabedian, recipient of the Charles S. Dougherty Philosophy Graduate Student Teaching Award for 2011–12.

Essay Awards

There are two winners of the 2012 Graduate Philosophy Essay Award:

Jacob Greenstine for his “Why Galileo Matters” and Matt Lovett for his “Rothko’s Negative Theology”

Congratulations Jacob and Matt!

The other nominations were extremely strong and the committee commends them all heartily:

Karim Barakat for his "The Self-Conscious Subject"
Keith Hehr for "God and Nature in Spinoza's Philosophy: The Immanence of Transcendence."
Bethany Somma for her paper "Life and Power: Superabundance in the Philosophy of Plotinus"

We are very proud of you all.

The winning papers will be presented to the department at an award ceremony later in the spring.

Sincerely yours,
The 2012 Graduate Student Essay Award Committee (Jennifer Bates and Lanei Rodemeyer)

Grant Recipients

Congratulations to Matt Lovett, recipient of the Faculty Development Grant! Matt has developed a “Philosophy before and after the Holocaust” course, to be taught in Spring 2014 that will involve a spring break away trip to Berlin.

Pittsburgh Summer Symposium in Contemporary Philosophy:
Schelling and Naturphilosophie, August 5–9

In recent years there has been a surge of research on Schelling, aided in the English speaking world by a number of recent translations. This movement has included reexaminations of Schelling as a figure in the history of philosophy, as a source of influence on a number of twentieth century thinkers, and as a rich resource for addressing contemporary philosophical debates.

This project was awarded a grant from the NEH to bring together an international group of graduate students, postdoctoral students, and junior faculty for a week of discussion, lecture, and close textual study concerning this important philosopher. We will examine questions about nature, objectivity, matter, life, knowledge, and whether or not transcendental philosophy can be reconciled with the findings of the empirical sciences.

Please find more information on the website here.

The Inaugural Pennsylvania Circle of Ancient Philosophy Conference Was a Success!

Congratulations and thanks to conference organizers Jacob Greenstine and Bethany Somma! The first PCAP was an excellent event filled with high quality scholarly papers. More information about the conference, including pictures from the event, can be found here.

Undergrad Thesis Defenses

  • Colin Stragar-Rice, “Morality as an Expression of Power: Conatus and Its Role in Moral Deliberation.”  Director: Dr. Kelly Arenson
  • Andrew Evans, “Investigating Love: Nietzsche Compared to Augustine.” Director: Dr. Patrick Lee Miller  
  • Stephen Hanson, “Husserl, Wittgenstien, & the Intersubjectivity of Language.” Director: Dr. Lanei Rodemeyer
  • Rachel Van Campenhout, “Between Consciousness and the Body: A Phenomenological Exploration.” Director: Dr. Lanei Rodemeyer
  • Roman Becicka, "The Role of Reason in Mental Health: Case-Studies in Ancient and Modern Philosophy." Director: Dr. Patrick Lee Miller

All defenses were conducted in the Simon Silverman Phenomenology Center on April 26, 2012.

Faculty and Ph.D. College Awards 2012

  • Dr. George Yancy has won the McAnulty College and Graduate School for Liberal Arts Excellence in Scholarship Award.
  • Dr. Daniel Selcer has won the McAnulty College and Graduate School for Liberal Arts Faculty Teaching Award.
  • Mrs. Joan Thompson, administrative assistant, has won the McAnulty College and Graduate School Staff Award.
  • Mr. Nathan Eckstrand (Philosophy Ph.D. Student) has won The McAnulty College Graduate Student Scholarship Award.

Philosophy Visiting Speakers Series and Related Events

Department Highlights

Jacob Greenstine has been awarded a 2013-14 Fulbright Fellowship to research his dissertation on non-being in Aristotle's Metaphysics. He will spend the year at the University of Kassel in Germany working with Prof. Dr. Gottfried Heinemann.

Ron Polansky is the current Chair, replacing James Swindal who was recently hired as Dean of the McAnulty College of Arts and Sciences.

Jennifer Bates hosted a conference on Hegel's Logic last semester on October 28th. Panel participants included Jay Lampert (University of Guelph), John Russon (University of Guelph), David Morris (Concordia University), and Tom Rockmore.

Fred Evans was elected Member-at-Large of the Executive Committee for the Society of Phenomenological and Existential Philosophy (SPEP). He was also one of four Keynote speakers of the Seminario International: Rutas y Encuentros de Los Estudios Sociales y Culturales in Bogota, Columbia in October, presenting his paper "Voces de la democracia: cuidadania y arte public en el Millenium Park de Chicago."

Louis Bulter, an undergraduate major, has been award a Fulbright Scholarship to study in Munich for the academic year 2011–12. Pittsburgh Tribune Article.

Daniel Selcer is the Director of Graduate Studies, replacing Ron Polansky while he serves as Chair. He has recently spoken on early modern materialism at the University of Pittsburgh, on the importance of history for philosophy at Slippery Rock University, on Spinoza's account of individualism at the University of Guelph, and on the idea of ‘operative science' in Bacon and Spinoza at Simon Fraser University. We are also pleased to announce that Dan is being awarded the McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts Faculty Teaching Award for his fine classroom work

Patrick Miller was awarded a Presidential scholarship for research in the summer of 2011.

Lanei Rodemeyer presented her paper: "Similar (but Different) and Different (but Similar): The Possibility for Intercultural Others in Husserl's Fifth Cartesian Meditation," at Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto, Japan. She was also invited to speak at the "Feminist Phenomenology and Medicine" conference at Uppsala University where she presented her paper "Feminism, Phenomenology, and Hormones," which has been submitted for publication in an anthology on Feminist Phenomenology and Medicine.

Patrick Miller presented a series of posts, entitled "Crosswise Christ," on the Immanent Frame, a blog sponsored by the Social Science Research Council.

Recent Faculty Publications

Patrick Miller Becoming God: Pure Reason in Early Greek Philosophy. Continuum Press, 2011. Tom Rockmore Kant and Phenomenology. University of Chicago Press, 2011.
Jennifer Bates Hegel and Shakespeare on Moral Imagination. SUNY Press, 2010.

View it here.

Tom Rockmore Before and After 9/11: A Philosophical Examination of Globalization, Terror, and History. Continuum Press, 2011.
Daniel Selcer Philosophy and the Book. Continuum Press, 2010.

George Yancy, editor. The Center Must Not Hold. White Women Philosophers on the Whiteness of Philosophy. Lexington, 2010.

George Yancy, Look, A White! Philosophical Essays on Whiteness. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press 2012.

Fred Evans,The Multivoiced Body: Society and Communication in the Age of Diversity, Columbia University Press, 2009.

James Swindal, Action and Existence: A Case For Agent Causation. (Macmillan, 2012).

Michael Harrington, On the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy: The Thirteenth-Century Textbook Edition. Peeters, 2011.

Graduate Newsletters

Graduate Newsletter Vol. 1 Issue 1
Graduate Newsletter Vol. 1 Issue 2
Graduate Newsletter Vol. 2 Issue 1
Graduate Newsletter Vol. 2 Issue 2
Graduate Newsletter Vol. 3 Issue 1
Graduate Newsletter Vol. 3 Issue 2
Graduate Newsletter Vol. 4 Issue 1
Graduate Newsletter Vol. 5 Issue 1
Graduate Newsletter Vol. 6 Issue 1
Graduate Newsletter Vol. 7 Issue 1
Graduate Newsletter Vol. 8 Issue 1