About Me

Robert Franklin Barsky is a Professor of English and French Literatures in the College of Arts and Sciences, and he is a Professor of Law at the Vanderbilt Law School. He also holds appointments in Jewish Studies and European Studies. His work is deeply interdisciplinary, relating to immigration, refugee studies, border studies,19th and 20th Century English and French literature, literary theory, Translation, the milieus of Noam Chomsky, the law/literature overlap, and the Americas — writ large.

Barsky was born and raised in Montréal. He attended Brandeis University, and then undertook graduate work at McGill University focused first on Lord Byron (“Byron and Catastrophism”), and then on the application of discourse and literary theories to Convention refugee transcripts (“The Construction Through Discourse a Productive Other”). He was a Professeur sous octroi for the Institut national de recherché scientifique (INRS), before taking up a post-doc with Michel Meyer on rhetoric and argumentation at l’Université libre de Bruxelles, in Belgium. He has taught at the University of Western Ontario, l’Université du Québec à Montréal, and in 2002 was named the Canadian Bicentennial Visiting Professor at Yale. He has been Visiting Professor at the VU Amsterdam Law School, the Toulouse School of Economics Institute for advanced Studies, and the University of Edinburgh Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities. He is also the Faculty Director of the W.T. Bandy Center, the Founding Director of Quebec and Canadian Studies, and the co-Director, with Daniel Gervais, of the Robert Penn Warren Seminar on Literature and Law. In the spring of 2018, he has been named Academic Writing fellow to the Rockefeller Bellagio Center for his project on ‘Migrant Interactions with Host Country Officials: Communication, Policy and Law on the Front Lines’.

Barsky is the author or editor of numerous books on: narrative and law (Undocumented Immigrants in an Era of Arbitrary Law [2016], Constructing a Productive Other: Discourse Theory and the Convention Refugee Hearing [1994] and Arguing and Justifying: Assessing the Convention Refugees’ Choice of Moment, Motive and Host Country [2000]); on radical theory and practice (Zellig Harris: From American Linguistics to Socialist Zionism [2011], The Chomsky Effect: A Radical Works Beyond the Ivory Tower [2007], Noam Chomsky: A Life of Dissent [1997] and an edition of Anton Pannekoek’s Workers Councils [2002]); on discourse and literary theory (Introduction à la théorie littéraire [1997], an edited volume with Michael Holquist, Bakhtin and Otherness [1990], an edited collection with Eric Méchoulan, The Production of French Criticism [2002], an edited collection called Marc Angenot and the Scandal of History [2004], numerous edited collections for AmeriQuests (www.ameriquests.org) including “Quests Beyond the Ivory Tower: Public Intellectuals, Academia and the Media”, with Saleem Ali); and on translation — in both theory and practice (including a translation of Michel Meyer’s Philosophy and the Passions [2000]). His first novel, Hatched was published by Sunbury Press in 2016.

Barsky has been involved with a range of journals, including SubStance, for which he served as an editor, Literary Research (ICLA) for which he served as Managing Editor, and he is the founder of 415 South Street, a literary magazine, Discours social/Social Discourse, and the international on-line journal AmeriQuests (www.ameriquests.org).

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