Meet UVa's Participating Faculty

Returning Faculty

Manuela Achilles is an Associate Professor of German and History with a joint appointment in the Department of German, and the Corcoran Department of History. In addition to the Center for German Studies, she is directing the European Studies Program at the University of Virginia. Professor Achilles' research combines the study of transnational German history and culture with theoretical analyses. She has published broadly on Weimar democracy and is currently completing a book length-study of constitutional patriotism and the fascist threat in Weimar Germany. Her second research interest revolves around green practices and ideas. She is the co-editor of Environmental Sustainability in Transatlantic Perspective: A Multidisciplinary Approach (Palgrave MacMillan Energy, Climate and the Environment Series 2013, together with Dana Elzey) and of a special issue of Europe Now on Nationalism, Nativism, and the Revolt Against Globalization (together with Kyrill Kunakhovich and Nicole Shea; February 2018).

Doug Grissom received his M.F.A. in playwriting from Brandeis University and his plays have been widely produced at many venues around the country. Doug has won several playwriting awards, including the Virginia Playwriting Award, Mill Mountain New Play Competition and the Outstanding New Play Award at the Washington Theatre Festival. His plays Deep Down and Elvis People were mounted in major Off-Broadway productions and subsequently produced at regional theatres across the country.

His educational theatre piece on acquaintance rape, But I Said No (co-written with Margaret Baldwin), received national acclaim and toured extensively on college campuses around the country. He has written two educational plays commissioned by the Charlottesville Sexual Assault Resource Center: I Never Saw It Coming, addressing teen assault, toured high schools in Virginia and was seen by over 20,000 students; Ear of the Beholder, addressing sexual harassment in middle school, played extensively in middle schools in central Virginia. Grissom has twice been the Chair of the Playwriting Division of the Southeastern Theatre Conference, and has been the Regional Playwriting Chair and the National Playwriting Vice Chair for the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival. He is a co-founder of Offstage Theatre in Charlottesville, Virginia, a theatre devoted to the performance of original works in site-specific venues.

Kyrill Kunakhovich is Assistant Professor of History at the University of Virginia, where he teaches courses on communism, fascism, nationalism, and the Cold War. A historian of modern Europe, his particular focus is on central and eastern Europe in the twentieth century. Together with Piotr Kosicki, he is the editor of The Long 1989: Decades of Global Revolution (Central European University Press, 2018). His current book manuscript, entitled Culture for the People: Art and Politics in Communist Poland and East Germany, considers how arts and culture helped to make, and then unmake, the Soviet Bloc. Focusing on two cities, Kraków in Poland and Leipzig in the GDR, it examines art's role in communist politics as well as communism's impact on the arts.

Katelyn Hale Wood is a performance studies scholar and theater historian whose research engages the intersections of critical race and queer theory, gender studies, and 20th/21st century comedic performance in the United States. Her work has been published in Theatre Topics, QED: A Journal in GLTBQ Worldmaking, and Departures in Critical Qualitative Research, and has also been supported by the American Society for Theatre Research and the National Center for Institutional Diversity.

New Faculty

Asher D. Biemann's reserach focuses on modern Jewish thought and intellectual and cultural history. Rooted in Jewish and Continental philosophical traditions, his work frequently engages religious and aesthetic questions. Historically, his research concentrates on Jewish life in Central Europe, Italy, the Yishuv and modern Israel. In addition to the Martin Buber Werkausgabe, he is also involved in the edition of the works of Isaac Breuer and in collaborative projects on modern Jewish Orthodoxy and culture.

Zvi Gilboa joined the University of Virginia in Fall 2011. His research primarily lies in the fields of Transnational Studies, German Literature and Culture, and Transnational Literature in Hebrew, and places special emphasis on the cultural and literary authorship of non-native speakers. Zvi's interest in languages is not limited to those that are "merely spoken"; he holds degrees in piano performance from Tel-Aviv University and Indiana University, and has long been immersed in several computer languages. With a great passion for digital typography that pertains to both research and teaching, Zvi constantly looks for ways to improve the typesetting of right-to-left scripts using transparent and modifiable typesetting frameworks.

Language and technology intersect in Zvi's teaching in a variety of areas, and are also at the heart of the assessment method he devised for the Modern Hebrew program, nick-named Show What You Know. Instead of taking traditional vocabulary quizzes, for instance, students in the program record videos in which they demonstrate their mastery of the vocabulary at stake. Assessment of grammar and oral proficiency takes place in a similar manner, and students thus record during the semester a large number of videos, each of which dedicated to a specific grammatical or conversational topic.

In addition to teaching during the regular academic year, Zvi also teaches in and directs the Modern Hebrew Summer Language Institute, which he established upon joining the university. The Hebrew SLI soon became famous (some say notorious) for the extreme amount of work that it involves, and has been particularly attractive for students who seek to surrender their freedom for eight weeks in exchange for high language competence at the end of the program.

Michael Lee served from 2009 to 2012 as a postdoctoral associate in the Department of Garden and Landscape Studies at Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, administered by the Trustees for Harvard University in Washington, DC. His research focuses on ideological constructions of nature at the intersection of philosophy, litera­ture, and landscape design. He has a special interest in European garden history (particularly in 18th–20th-century Germany) and has lectured around the country and in Germany on the subject.

Lee is the author of The German “Mittelweg”: Garden Theory and Philosophy in the Time of Kant (2007), co-editor with Mirka Beneš of Clio in the Italian Garden: Twenty-First-Century Studies in Historical Methods and Theoretical Perspectives (2011), and co-editor with Kenneth I. Helphand of Technology and the Garden (2014). His latest projects include a study of landscape infrastructure in the design work of Peter Joseph Lenné (1789–1866) and an analysis of landscape and gender in Weimar modernism.

Lee has previously taught at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, the Rhode Island School of Design, and Connecticut College. He has also lectured at Humboldt Universität zu Berlin, the Stiftung Fürst-Pückler-Park Bad Muskau, and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. Trained as a landscape archi­tect and historian, he received an MLA and a PhD in landscape architecture from Harvard University and a BSLA from Texas A&M University.

Marcel Schmid is Assistant Professor in German Studies at University of Virginia. He studied history, German literature, and art history at the University of Zurich. Having taught high school for years his graduate studies led him back to the University of Zurich but also abroad to Yale and New York University. He defended his dissertation in German literature on the concept of autopoiesis in 2014. Since then he has been a visiting scholar at Yale and Brown University, and a postdoctoral fellow of the Swiss National Science Foundation. His first book Autopoiesis und Literatur was published in 2016 by the German publisher “transcript.” The same year he co-edited a volume on the literature of the German life reform movement.

Marcel Schmid is interested in the interface between literary analysis and technology. He is currently working on a book project entitled Cultural Seriality in Times of Technological Singularity, and he is editing a volume on self-referentiality in literature, as well as a volume on the Swiss author Christian Kracht. Since childhood Marcel has been interested in car culture and he has published articles on “Dieselgate” and autonomous driving in the Swiss newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung.