The Modern Word: Literary Advisory Board

The Modern Word's Literary Advisory Board of distinguished professionals -- academics, librarians, publishers, etc. -- who champion the best of 20th century fiction in their daily activities and affiliations, determine the criteria by which writers are added to the existing roster of authors and also identify those most deserving of inclusion on the site as it expands.

Literary Advisory Board Members

Robert DiYanni, Chairperson. Robert DiYanni has taught at The City University of New York, Pace University, Harvard, and most recently, New York University. Professor DiYanni is also a Director at the College Board, where he is in charge of international initiatives for the Advanced Placement program and new media extensions. Bob is the author of many distinguished books and frequently lectures and participates in writing and literature workshops. He serves The Modern Word as both the Chairperson of the LAB and a member of the Board of Directors.

Laura Barnes, a distinguished rare bookseller, with particular knowledge of James Joyce, is founder and President of Araby Books, Inc. Previously, she was Vice President and CFO of Glenn Horowitz Bookseller, another well-known rare book dealer. She is a Magna Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Columbia College, and holds an MA from New York University, and an MBA from Harvard. Prior to becoming a rare bookseller, Laura was an editor at Free Press and in marketing at HarperCollins.

Ralph Ciancio is Professor Emeritus and former Chair of the English Department at Skidmore College. Ralph has also taught at Carnegie Mellon University and Birkbeck College, London, and has written articles on Sherwood Anderson, Saul Bellow, William Faulkner, Vladimir Nabokov, William Styron, Nathanael West, and Richard Wright. In 1997, he was elected Moseley Research Lecturer, the highest honor bestowed by the Skidmore faculty, and was the recipient of the Skidmore College President's Award in 2000.

Joseph Coulson, Editorial Director of The Great Books Foundation, has a Ph.D. in Poetics and American Literature from SUNY Buffalo. His literary criticism has been published in numerous journals and anthologies. Joe is also a published poet and a playwright, whose play - A Saloon at the Edge of the World - was produced in San Francisco in 1996. Prior to joining The Great Books Foundation, he taught for 15 years at the college and secondary levels.

Michael Dirda -- Michael Dirda is a writer and senior editor at The Washington Post Book World, where he has worked since 1978. Dirda holds a B.A., with Highest Honors in English from Oberlin College and an M.A. and Ph.D. in comparative literature from Cornell University (medieval studies and European romanticism), as well as an honorary doctorate from Washington College. He received the 1993 Pulitzer Prize for Distinguished Criticism. Dirda reviews a wide range of books, from intellectual history and innovative fiction to literature in translation, thrillers, mysteries and children's books. He also conducts a weekly discussion of books for and writes a monthly column for Book World called "Readings." A selection of these was published in 2000: Readings: Essays and Literary Entertainments (Indiana University Press). Dirda occasionally contributes essays, reviews and features to various publications, from Smithsonian Magazine to the Baker Street Journal. He has been a board member of the National Book Critics Circle and a juror for several other literary prizes, including the Pulitzer and the World Fantasy Award. He owns far too many books.

Jason Epstein

Jean Franco was the first Professor of Latin American Literature in England and has taught at London University, the University of Essex, Stanford, and beginning in1982, Columbia, where she is now Professor Emerita. She is an editor of the Cultural Studies of the Americas series (Minnesota University Press) and General Editor of the Library of Latin America series (Oxford University Press). She is also the author of many books and essays. Jean has been decorated by the governments of Chile and Venezuela for her work on Latin American Literature and has received a PEN award for Lifetime Achievement.

Adele Haft is Associate Professor of Classics at Hunter College of the City University of New York. She has written about the Homeric epics and Euripidean drama and presented papers in the United States and abroad. She is co-author of The Key to "The Name of the Rose" and is currently writing a book on maps in 20th Century Poetry. Before joining the Hunter faculty in 1981, she taught at Princeton University, where she received her doctorate, and at the University of Victoria in British Columbia.

Tom Kersting -- Thomas Kersting is Chairman of the English Department at Briarcliff High School in Westchester County, New York, where he has taught for the past twenty-five years. At Briarcliff Tom teaches English in grades 9-12, including Advanced Placement English Literature and Composition, as well as electives in Shakespeare and semantics. He was named a 1997 Teacher of Excellence by the New York State English Council and was the 1997 Teacher of the Year in the Briarcliff Manor Public Schools. Tom has also taught on the adjunct staffs of several area colleges, including Fordham University and Manhattanville College. He has published articles on Irish history and folklore and has an passion for the works of James Joyce, Seamus Heaney, and Paul Muldoon.

Christopher Lehmann-Haupt has worked in the field of books his entire professional career. He began as an editor for various New York publishing houses, among them Holt, Rinehart & Winston and The Dial Press. He then become an editor on The New York Times Book Review, and was later appointed Senior Daily Book Reviewer for The New York Times. Since then he has written over 3,000 book reviews and articles, on every subject from trout fishing to Persian archaeology. This spring he becomes chief obituary writer for The Times. Born in Edinburgh, Scotland, Chris was educated at Swarthmore College and the Yale School of Drama, from which he received a Master of Fine Arts in theater history and dramatic criticism. He has also lectured widely, written articles on a variety of subjects, and published two books, Me and DiMaggio: A Baseball Fan Goes in Search of His Gods and a novel, A Crooked Man.

Brad Leithauser

Thomas S. W. Lewis -- Tom Lewis is Quadracci Professor of Social Responsibility and a professor of English at Skidmore College. He has edited The Letters of Hart Crane and his Family and a collection of essays on Virginia Woolf, and has written a number of essays on modern writers and culture. His books on modern culture include Empire of the Air: The Men Who Made Radio; and Divided Highways: The Interstates and the Transformation of American Life. He earned his BA from the University of New Brunswick in Canada, and his MA and Ph.D. from Columbia where he was both a Faculty and Woodrow Wilson Fellow. Lewis has also written and co-produced documentary films with Ken Burns and Lawrence Hott. His documentary work has won an Emmy and a Peabody Award for Excellence in Broadcasting.

Victor Luftig, Associate Professor and Co-Director of the Center for the Liberal Arts at the University of Virginia, has taught previously at Brandeis, Middlebury (Bread Loaf), and Yale. Victor is the author of Seeing Together: Friendship Between the Sexes in English Writing, From Mill to Woolf, published by Stanford University Press in 1993. He has also written articles on W.H. Auden, Seamus Heaney, James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, and others.

Peter Mayer is Publisher of The Overlook Press. From 1978 to 1996, Peter was Chief Executive of Penguin during which time he grew the company's sales from $60 million to $950 million, through robust internal growth and acquisition, in both the United States and the United Kingdom. Previously, while at Avon Books, Peter successfully launched the trade paperback as a viable alternative to mass market and hardcover formats. He has written several books and translated others into English from German and French.

Rodney Phillips, the recently appointed Director of the Humanities and Social Sciences Library at the New York Public Library, was formerly Curator of the Library's Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection of English and American Literature, a world renowned collection of literary manuscripts and first editions. Rodney is co-author of two books and curator of numerous special exhibits at the Library.

Jorge Pinto, Honorary President of the Mexican Cultural Institute in New York, as well as Consul General, was previously Mexican Ambassador in Sweden and Undersecretary of Foreign Relations. He is also a former university professor and publisher of magazines and classical book collections. Jorge is the founder of, a cultural web site, and has been a member of the Board of the World Bank and the head of a development bank in London and New York.

David Rosen has worked at Book-of-the-Month Club for 11 years, currently as Vice President and Editorial Director of the Quality Paperback Book Club. During his tenure, he has brought back into print over 50 works of modern literature, including sets by Virginia Woolf, D.H. Lawrence, and Walt Whitman. David has hosted author readings at NYC's Symphony Space, KGB, and The Algonquin Hotel, and has been a guest lecturer at the NYU Publishing Course.

Paul Schwaber

Thomas Staley is Director of the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin, where he is also Professor of English and holds the Ransom Chair in Liberal Arts. He has written or edited thirteen books, on James Joyce, Italo Svevo, modern British women novelists Jean Rhys and Dorothy Richardson, and modern literature. Tom has chaired or co-chaired four international James Joyce symposia, and is a board member and former President of the James Joyce Foundation. He was also twice a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Trieste.

Brigitte Weeks is Vice President and Editor-in-Chief of the Book and Media Division of Guideposts, a direct-mail publisher with a database of over 15 million customers. Previously, Brigitte was SVP and Editor-in-Chief of Book-of-the-Month Club, as well as a public advocate for books and reading, appearing on the Oprah Winfrey and Larry King shows. Before joining BOMC, she was Editor of The Washington Post Book World. Brigitte has written extensively on books and authors for The New York Times, The Washington Post, American Film, and The New Republic. She has been President of the National Book Critics Circle, has served on the Executive Committee of the National Book Foundation Board, and has served four times on juries for the Pulitzer Prizes.