Rev. Dr. John J. Ranieri
Director, University Honors Program
Thomas and Ruth Sharkey Professor of Humanities
Professor of Philosophy

Fr. Ranieri is interested in the relationship between the biblical tradition and political philosophy. Influenced by the thought of René Girard, he has been exploring the role of violence in philosophy and religion. In addition to Girard, Fr. Ranieri also has a special interest in the work of Bernard Lonergan. Fr. Ranieri is the author of Eric Voegelin and the Good Society (University of Missouri Press, 1995). He has published “Modernity and the Jewish Question: What Leo Strauss Learned from Nietzsche,” which can be found in Politics and Apocalypse (Michigan State University Press, 2007). His book, Disturbing Revelation: Leo Strauss, Eric Voegelin, and the Bible, has recently been published by University of Missouri Press, 2009.

Dr. Jonathan Farina
Associate Director, University Honors Program
Associate Professor of English

Dr. Farina is Chair of the Seton Hall Faculty Senate and President of the Northeast Victorian Studies Association (NVSA). He teaches undergraduate and graduate courses on nineteenth-century British literature, the novel, and critical theory, as well as the Honors Colloquium on the Early-Modern World. Dr. Farina researches the history of fiction as a genre, as a category of knowledge, and as a repository of everyday epistemic assumptions. His first book, Everyday Words and the Character of Prose in Nineteenth-Century Britain (Cambridge University Press 2017), describes how nineteenth-century novels foreground the everyday language underwriting knowledge in Victorian writing, including science by Lyell, Darwin, and Tyndall. Analyzing a set of colloquial tics—”a turn,” “as if,” “but,” “something,” “particular” and “general”—the book shows how writers appropriated the most common forms of characterization to concretize and afford human value to abstractions like the scientific method, the financial market, the social body, and fiction. “Characterization,” it shows, was a historically specific mode of description that aimed not to reproduce facts but to deviate from them—and yet still tell the truth. Farina is working on a second book that recasts Victorian literary criticism as a repository of alternative, undisciplined forms of knowledge production, rather than a mere genealogy of “new criticism.” To this end, he has been writing about awkwardness, obviousness, Russian nihilists, and induction.

Dr. Michael Maloney
Associate Director, University Honors Program
Instructor of Religion

Michael Maloney is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Religion. He holds a Ph.D. from Fordham University in Systematic Theology. His research interests are in the area of philosophical theology, specifically conceptions of the God-world relation as these are presented in the pagan, Christian, and Eastern traditions. He is also interested in how different philosophical allegiances shape theological reflection. Within the Catholic intellectual tradition his allegiance, and his training, is in the tradition of Thomism, and more narrowly, in the work of those thinkers who would either be classified as representative of, or sympathetic to, the project of Transcendental Thomism, such as the theologian Karl Rahner and the philosopher Bernard Lonergan.

Dr. Dermot Quinn
Associate Director, University Honors Program
Professor of History

Before coming to Seton Hall in 1990 Dr. Quinn taught at Amherst College in Massachusetts and at Oxford University. He has degrees from Trinity College, Dublin and Oxford University. His first book, Patronage and Piety: English Roman Catholics and Politics, 1850-1900, was published in 1993 by Stanford University Press. Another book, Understanding Northern Ireland, was published by Baseline Books, also in 1993. Professor Quinn is a native of Derry, Northern Ireland. He has published articles and reviews in Recusant History, The Chesterton Review, The American Historical Review, Labor History, The Review of Politics, The Welsh History Review, and other scholarly journals. Professor Quinn’s third book, The Irish in New Jersey: Four Centuries of American Life, was published by Rutgers University Press in 2004, winning New Jersey Author award for scholarly non-fiction in 2005.

Dr. Mary Balkun
Professor of English

Dr. Balkun has a B.A. in from New Jersey City University, an M.A. from Seton Hall University and a Ph.D. from New York University. Her research interests include material culture, gender studies, women’s travel narratives, and the construction of identity in literature. She is the author of The American Counterfeit: Authenticity and Identity in American Literature and Culture, as well as articles on Phillis Wheatley, Sarah Kemble Knight, Walt Whitman, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and William Faulkner. She is associate editor of The Greenwood Encyclopedia of American Poets and Poetry. Dr. Balkun teaches a variety of courses, both undergraduate and graduate, including the University’s first-year core course, The Journey of Transformation, Women and Literature II, American Romanticism, Studies in American Literature, and Senior Seminar. She is also interested in the use of technology for teaching and to advance learning. Most recently, Dr. Balkun has been at work on a study of the grotesque in early American literature. She has given numerous presentations on her particular scholarship as well as her pedagogical interests. She is on the editorial board of Transformations, the Journal of Inclusive Scholarship and Pedagogy, and a member of several scholarly organizations, including MLA, SEA, and NJCEA. At the base of all her work is the belief in the importance of remaining open to new ideas and new paths.

Rev. Dr. Douglas Milewski, S.T.D.
Associate Professor of Theology
School of Theology

Fr. Milewski received his doctorate from the Augustinianum Patristic Institute of the Pontifical Lateran University, Rome. His specializations include the theology, literature and history of early Christianity, the Fathers of the Church and, in particular, Saint Augustine. He has co-authored two Seton Hall University undergraduate degree programs: the B.A. in Catholic Studies (2002) and the B.A. in Theology (2007) for the College of Arts & Sciences and Immaculate Conception Seminary School of Theology, respectively. He has also led Seton Hall foreign study programs in Italy, Poland and Ireland. Most recently, Fr. Milewski collaborated with Dr. Raymond Capra and Dr. Ines Murzaku on The Life of Saint Neilos of Rossano, volume 47 of Harvard University’s Dumbarton Oaks Medieval Library series (2018).

Dr. Robert Pallitto
Associate Professor of Political Science

Dr. Pallitto is a former public interest trial lawyer who litigated several precedent-setting cases in housing and welfare rights law before completing a Ph.D. in political theory at The New School for Social Research in New York. He came to Seton Hall University in 2007, and teaches courses in public law and political philosophy. Dr. Pallitto has published three books: Presidential Secrecy and the Law (Johns Hopkins U.P. 2007), Torture and State Violence in the US (Johns Hopkins U.P. 2011), and In the Shadow of the Great Charter (U. Press of Kansas 2015). He has also authored numerous scholarly articles. He is currently completing a book on technology and politics.

Dr. Arundhati Sanyal
Senior Faculty Associate, Dept. of English

Dr. Sanyal teaches Freshman composition and courses in the 19th Century British and World Literature.

Dr. Donovan Sherman
Associate Professor, Department of English

Dr. Sherman’s primary research focus is on Shakespeare and dramatic literature, with additional work in various fields of critical theory (psychoanalysis, political theology, ordinary language philosophy) and performance studies. His first book, Second Death: Theatricalities of the Soul in Shakespeare’s Drama, examines the figure of the soul in early modern England. The book argues that the soul founded itself on an irreconcilable paradox: it must somehow provide the basis of human life while, at the same time, elude all traces of representation. This situation created a symptomatic anxiety in the theatre that can, in turn, be traced in the dramatic work of Shakespeare and his peers.

Most recently Dr. Sherman has been working on a tentatively titled The Philosopher’s Toothache, that examines the revival of Stoicism in the Renaissance as an embodied, rather than simply theorized, philosophy.

Dr. Sherman is co-author, with Robert Cohen, of the 11th edition of the textbook Theatre, published by McGraw-Hill Higher Education.

Dr. Edgar Valdez
University Core Curriculum
Teaching Fellow

With a research focuses on the work of the philosopher Immanuel Kant, Dr. Valdez is particularly concerned with revisiting Kant’s critical philosophy and understanding what implications his claims have for other human investigations like Ethics and the natural sciences. Dr. Valdez has his B.A. and M.A. from Boston College and his Ph.D from Binghampton University where his dissertation revisited Kant’s claims about the role of space in human knowing and its relationship to pure mathematics. Dr. Valdez, in turn, evaluates this claim in light of advances in non Euclidean geometries.

In his teaching, Dr. Valdez focuses on introductory courses and interdisciplinary approaches to bringing students to “big questions,” questions that are fundamental to the lived human experience. Kant, for instance, suggests that all worthwhile questions relate to four central questions: 1) What can I know? 2) What must I do? 3) What can I hope for? 4) What is a human being?

Professor Chelsea Wegrzyniak
Adjunct Professor

Professor Wegrzyniak holds a B.A. in Philosophy from Idaho State University. She earned her M.A. in Philosophy at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee where her culminating exams were in the area of Feminist Ethics. She has taught at Fordham University and most recently at Vanderbilt University. Recent presentations include Character from Commitments: A Project-Based Account of Personal Ethics from Bernard Williams (Vanderbilt University); From “the Feminine” to the Feminist: Finding a Contribution to Feminist Ethics in “Totality and Infinity” (Fordham Philosophical Society); Social Contention Through Capability Demonstration: A Pragmatist Answer to Bias in Moral Principle Formation (Long Island Philosophical Society).

Dr. Youssef Yacoubi
Assistant Professor & Director, Arabic Studies Program
Department of Languages Literatures and Cultures

Dr. Yacoubi is a comparatist and critical theorist interested in the literary, theological and cultural intersections between Mediterranean, Islamic, Arab, British and North American traditions of thought and critique. He has taught at the Ohio State University as an assistant professor in Near Eastern Languages and Cultures, and comparative studies where he was a Denman Undergraduate Research Forum Judge, as Faculty Representative/Examiner, College of Arts and Humanities, and as an advisor for the Undergraduate Fulbright Campus Committee. He has also taught Arabic and Comparative Literature at Bard College and at Hofstra University where he directed the Arabic, and the study abroad programs. He taught in Bard’s First Year Seminar Program and at the Bard College Prison Initiative.

His teaching interests cover modern and classical Arabic literatures, Arab-American literature, Middle Eastern/ North African intellectual and political history, Francophone/British/Anglophone modern literatures, postcolonial criticism and theory, and philosophy of religion.

Dr. Yacoubi is the author of The Play of Reasons: the Sacred and the Profane in Salman Rushdie’s Fiction, (Peter Lang, 2012) which argues that Salman Rushdie’s eclectic and hybridized work can be situated within an Islamic genealogy of theological and literary traditions. He has published articles on the works of Salman Rushdie, Taha Hussayn, Edward Said, Iqbal Ahmad and Mohammed Arkoun. His research focuses on the interface between critical theories and Islamic thought; the relationship between literature and theology, faith and reason, and questions of democratization through liberal arts within the contexts of the Arab and Islamic worlds. He is on the editorial board of Ikhtilaf: the Journal of Critical Humanities and Social Studies, (Mohammad 1st University, Oujda, Morocco) and is the editor of The Society for Contemporary Thought and the Islamicate World Journal (SCTIW Review).