Benjamin Barasch

Benjamin Barasch's picture

Benjamin Barasch is a Lecturer in Humanities and English at Yale University and in summer 2024 a Visiting Professor at Deep Springs College. He is a fellow of Yale’s Whitney Humanities Center and Berkeley College, of which he is a proud alumnus (BA 2009). He is a literary scholar, having received his PhD from Columbia University in 2019 with a dissertation on the idea of vitality in nineteenth-century American literature and European thought.

Barasch is co-editor, with David Bromwich and Bryan Garsten, of Judgment and Value in the Humanities (Yale University Press, forthcoming 2024), a volume of essays by major international scholars based on a 2021 conference sponsored by the Carnegie Foundation and the Yale Humanities Program. His contribution to the volume considers the challenges of teaching human complexity in a reductive age. He pursues this topic in his book in progress, Radical Humanism, which explores current threats to fundamental features of our humanity (inwardness, critical reflection, sympathetic imagination, friendship, romantic intimacy) and offers a proposal for reinvigorating them.

At Yale since 2019, Barasch pursues his humanist vocation through teaching both the Literature and History/Politics tracks of Directed Studies (for which he has lectured on authors including Plutarch, St. Paul, Hegel, Tocqueville, and Nietzsche), foundational English department courses on the epic tradition from Homer to Joyce and American literature from Emerson to Baldwin, and has designed and taught first-year and upper-level seminars on the nature of value, personal identity in modern literature and philosophy, American Romanticism, and Bob Dylan. (And his Fall 2023 Dylan class got to see Dylan live in concert!)

A strong believer in the essential value of liberal education, he is committed to working with a variety of communities beyond traditional undergraduates, from alumni programs (he teaches for both Yale Alumni College and EverScholar) to the Yale Prison Education Initiative, for which he is piloting a great books program in 2024-25. 

Music is also central to his work: a classically trained pianist, Barasch is engaged in ongoing scholarly and performance projects on Bob Dylan and Charles Ives; he appears on a Naxos recording (2024) of Ives’s orchestral works with Orchestra New England.