Curriculum Vitae

Abridged CV

Robert F. Barsky, Professor, College of Arts and Sciences; Professor, Vanderbilt Law School



1994‑1996: Post Doctoral Studies: European Centre for the Study of Argumentation, Institute of Philosophy, Free University of Brussels. Director: Professor Michel Meyer. Research on legal argumentation, rhetoric, and the narratives of law and literature.

1992‑1994: Post Doctoral Studies: University of Québec in Montréal. Director: Professor Marc Angenot. Research in discourse analysis theory pertaining to discourses in literature and law.

1987‑1992: PhD in Comparative Literature, McGill University, Montréal. Director: Professor George Szanto. Thesis title: “Constructing through Discourse a Productive Other: Discourse Theory and the Convention refugee Hearing”.

1985‑1987: Master’s of Arts in English Literature, McGill University, Montréal.

1981‑1984: Bachelor of Arts in English and American Literature, Brandeis University, Boston.

Selected publications


  1. Hatched. Mecanicsburg, PA: Sunbury Press, 2016.
  1. Undocumented Immigrants in an Era of Arbitrary Law: The Flight and Plight of Peoples Deemed ‘Illegal’. Oxford, Routledge Law, 2016.
  1. Zellig Harris: From American Linguistics to Socialist Zionism. Cambridge; London: The MIT Press, 2011.
  1. The Chomsky Effect: A Radical Works Beyond the Ivory Tower, Cambridge; London: The MIT Press, 2007; paperback 2009.
  1. Arguing and Justifying: Assessing the Convention Refugee Choice of Moment, Motive and Host Country. Aldershot; Burlington; Sydney; Singapore: Ashgate, 2001.
  1. Paris-SubStance-America. A special issue of SubStance devoted to French theory. 2001.
  1. Noam Chomsky: A Life of Dissent. Cambridge; London: MIT Press, 1997, 1998.
  1. Constructing a Productive Other: Discourse Theory and the Convention Refugee Hearing, Amsterdam; Philadelphia: John Benjamins, 1994.

Books and Journals Edited (selected)

Editor, Marc Angenot and the Scandal of History, a special issue of The Yale Journal of Criticism that features articles by Marc Angenot, Robert Barsky, Fredric Jameson, Marie-Christine Leps, Michel Pierssens, Darko Suvin. 2004.

Editor, Workers Councils, by Anton Pannekoek. A new and revised edition, edited and with comments by Robert Barsky, interviews with Noam Chomsky, Ken Coates and Peter Hitchcock, and a republication of a seminal piece by Paul Mattick. London/SF: AK Press, 2002.

Editor, Paris-SubStance-America. A special issue of SubStance devoted to French theory. 2001.

Editor, with Michael Holquist, Bakhtin and Otherness. A special issue of Discours social/Social Discourse 1991.

Philosophy and the Passions: Toward a History of Human Nature, Penn State Press, 2000, Robert Barsky’s translation and introduction of Michel Meyer’s Le Philosophe et les passions (Paris: Livres de poche).

Articles and chapters (selected recent)

“Zellig Harris” in Oxford Bibliographies in Linguistics, Oxford, Oxford UP (in press).

Chomsky, Noam (1928–). In: James D. Wright (editor-in-chief), International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences, 2nd edition, Vol 3. Oxford: Elsevier, 2015. pp. 526–530.

“Want To Prevent Lone Wolf Terrorism? Promote A ‘Sense of Belonging’ Among Immigrants,” in The Conversation and Huffington Post, 09/05/2016

The current crisis has tested the limits of the European political will – REFUGEE CRISIS and Interview with Robert F. Barsky,” Admiral News, 08/20/2016.

* Whalen, D. H., Molfese, P. J., Zunshine, L., Holquist, M., Coppola, J., Barsky, R. F., Steiner, P., Kelbert, E., Rubin, P. E., Mencl, W. E., Frost, S. J., & Pugh, K. “84 vignettes manipulating perspective embedding and number of actors, with probe questions: Accuracy levels and replicability of embedment judgments,” Behavior Research Methods, under consideration.

* Whalen, D. H., Molfese, P. J., Zunshine, L., Holquist, M., Coppola, J., Barsky, R. F., Steiner, P., Kelbert, E., Rubin, P. E., Mencl, W. E., Frost, S. J., & Pugh, K. R. (submitted). ““Validating Judgments of Perspective Embedding: Further Explorations of a New tool for literary analysis”, Scientific Study of Literature (SSOL), forthcoming.

* Robert F. Barsky. Discussion of Jamie-Nace Cohen-Cole’s The Open Mind: Cold War Politics and the Sciences of Human Nature. H-Socialisms, H-Net Reviews. June, 2015: Audio discussion

“The Savage Pilgrimage: D.H. Lawrence’s Dialogic Journeys upon Monte Verità, the Mountain of Truth”, L’Analisi linguistic e letterri linguistica e letteraria 1-2 (2014): 117-129.

“Zellig Harris: Language and Politics”, New Left Project,

“First Encounters: Knowledge Interpretation on the Front-Lines of Cross-Cultural Encounters,” Global Media Journal 2012: Volume 5, Issue 1, pp. 53-74. (

“Accessing Contextual Assumptions in Dialogue Interpreting: The Case of Illegal Immigrants in the United States”, in The Translator: Studies in Intercultural Translation, in Text and Context: Essays on Translation and Interpreting in Honour of Ian Mason. Manchester, St. Jerome Press, 2010.

“Methodological issues for the study of migrant incarceration in an era of discretion in law in the southern USA,” edited by Ilse van Liempt/Veronika Bilger. The Ethics of Migration Research Methodology: Processes, Policy and Legislation in Dealing with Vulnerable Immigrants. Sussex, Sussex Academic Press, 2009, pp 25-48.

“Academia in the era of Homeland Security” in Works and Days, a special issue on “Academic Freedom and Intellectual Activism in the Post-9/11 University’, volumes 26/7 (2009): 95-125.

“From Problematology to the ‘problem’ of the dialogic body, in The International Journal of Philosophy (2008).

“Activist Translation in an Era of Fictional Law,” for a special issue called Translation and Social Activism, ed. Sherry Simon, Traduction, Terminologie, Rédaction XVIII.2 (2007): 17-48.

“From Discretional to Fictional Law,” SubStance (Summer 2006): 1-52.

“Commemorating the Unthinkable” for Rwanda and the Great Lakes Region: Ten Years on from Genocide, International Insights (June 2005): 25-49.

“Bakhtin as Anarchist? Language, Law and Creative Impulses in the Work of Mikhail Bakhtin and Rudolph Rocker”, South Atlantic Quarterly special issue Bakhtin/Bakhtin: Studies in the Archive and Beyond, 97.3, Summer 1998: 623-642.

Recent Honors and Accomplishments

Undocumented Immigrants in an Era of Arbitrary Law shortlisted for the Hart Socio-Legal Book Prize (2016).

Named Center for Teaching Senior Faculty Fellow (2016).

Appointed as Visiting Professor to the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities, University of Edinburgh (2016).

Named by the Royal Dutch Academy of Arts and Sciences as a Visiting Professor in the Migration and Diversity Research Group, at the Free University of Amsterdam Law School (2012-4). The work, funded by the Royal Dutch Academy (KNAW)

Consultant for the Migration and Diversity Group for ongoing research projects on Border Death, undocumented domestic laborers, and PhD projects at the VU Amsterdam Law School.

Appointed by the Toulouse School of Economics (TSE) as a Visiting Scholar to the Institute for Advanced Studies, Toulouse,

Founded at Yale University in 2003 and developed at Vanderbilt University, AmeriQuests is now entering its 13th year, and hosts 35,000 hits/year and an extensive international audience.

External Examiner (selected):

External Examiner, PhD thesis, Oxford University. Georgia Cole, Green Templeton College. Thesis title: “Beyond Labeling: Exploring the Politics of the Cessation Clauses for Rwandan and Eritrean Refugees Through Semiotics.” October 2016.

External Examiner, PhD thesis, University of British Columbia Law School and the National University of Australia Law School. Anthea Vogl. Thesis title: “Refugee Status Determination, Narrative and the Oral Hearing in Australia and Canada’”

External Examiner, PhD thesis, Université du Québec à Montréal and McGill University Law School. Marie-Pierre Bouchard. Thesis title: Marie-Pierre Bouchard, « Rhétoriques de personne. Stratégies de positionnement des littératures francophone d’Afrique dans le contexte mondial des droits de la personne (1986-2012)». March 2016.

External Examiner, PhD thesis, Carlton University, Esther Post, “Emma Goldman and the Performative Function”, October 2008.

External Examiner, PhD thesis, Charles Sturt University, Australia, “Convention Refugee Policy”, September 2008.

Recent Conference Papers Read:

October, 2016. “Preventing Terrorism by Fostering Inclusion:Advocating for Policies that Promote a ‘Sense of Belonging’”, Las Casas Institute, Oxford University.

October, 2016. “Refugees and Undocumented Migrants on the Front Lines”, Refugee Studies Program, Oxford University.

October 21st, 2015, “The Undocumented Immigrant Crisis”. Faculty of Law, University of Winnipeg.

October 8th, 2015 Book Launch for Undocumented Immigrants in an Era of Arbitrary Law, Vanderbilt Law School (with remarks from Professors Chris Serkin, John Sloop and Ed Rubin).

September 25th, 2015: “The Front Lines as Geographical Space: The Example of Undocumented Migrants in the USA” FINIVEST CONGRESSI s.r.l. – Catania, Italy.

September 25th, 2015: “A New Methodology for Studying Undocumented Migrants: Translating on the Front Lines and Interpreting in Formal Migration Enforcement Settings” FINIVEST CONGRESSI s.r.l. – Via Gabriele D’Annunzio 125, 95127 Catania, Italy.

September 25th, 2015 (discussant) “Forms of Violence towards Migrants” FINIVEST CONGRESSI s.r.l. – Via Gabriele D’Annunzio 125, 95127 Catania, Italy

September 26th, 2015, “The Violence of Border-Crossing: The Effects of Moving from One Social Discourse to Another” FINIVEST CONGRESSI Catania, Italy.

November 26, 2013. “Asocial Injustice: Refugees lost without translation”, Co-Organised by the Amsterdam Critical Discourse Community and the Migration and Diversity Center, VU Amsterdam.

Friday, 4 October 2013, “The Future of Graduate Education and Training in the Humanities,” Bronfman 645, Hosted by the Institute for the Public Life of Arts and Ideas (IPLAI). McGill University, Montreal.

May 29-30, 2013. “Translation on the Front Lines,” University of Amsterdam Law School, Illegality Regimes conference.

June 27-30, 2013. “Frame of Reference: Zellig Harris’s Efforts To Shift Attitudes by Shifting Frames”, for “Shifting Attitudes,” an international conference organized by Robert Barsky and Paul Seabright (Director, Institute for Advanced Studies, Toulouse).

March, 2013. “The Savage Pilgrimage: D. H. Lawrence’s Dialogic Journeys upon Monte Verità, the Mountain of Truth.” Institute for Advanced Studies, Toulouse School of Economics, France.

February 28, 2013. “Literature and Law in the Modern World,” La Fuga Conference, Università Catolica.

Thursday, September 13, 2012, delivered the 10th Annual Elizabeth Killam Rodgers and Constance Killam Public Lecture entitled “The Changing Role of the Public Intellectual: From the Buildup Towards World War II to the Occupy Movement”. The lecture was delivered at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa:

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