Baruch Professor Wins National Humanities Center Fellowship

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Nancy Yousef, associate professor of English at Baruch College’s Weissman School of Arts and Sciences, has been awarded a National Humanities Center Fellowship for the 2006-2007 academic year. Yousef was one of only 40 scholars selected from a pool of 500 applicants. Under the terms of the prestigious award, she will spend a year at the Research Triangle in North Carolina completing her second book.                                                                   

Yousef describes the book, an ambitious cross-disciplinary project tentatively titled Intimacy: Sympathetic Endeavor in Ethics, Narrative and Psychoanalysis, as an attempt to draw important lines of connection between 18th-century Enlightenment philosophy, the Victorian novel, and 20th-century psychoanalysis.          

Beginning with “natural sympathy,” an ethical concept that looms large in the writings of Enlightenment thinkers such as David Hume and Lord Shaftsbury, Yousef goes on to explore its manifestation in the writings of Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, and George Eliot. Finally, she moves her narrative to the 20th century and focuses on how psychoanalysis interprets the therapeutic relationship between analyst and patient. The overarching theme, she says, is “how fully we can empathize with other people.”

A graduate of Harvard (’86), Yousef holds a doctorate in comparative literature from Columbia University. She has been teaching at Baruch since 1998 and has received numerous awards and distinctions in that time. “She is an absolutely outstanding teacher,” says Weissman Dean Myrna Chase, noting that in 2002 Yousef won the Whiting Teaching Award given to “the very best people up for tenure.”

These days Yousef also teaches at the CUNY Graduate Center, but her enthusiasm for her Baruch students is unabated. She especially enjoys teaching the English Department’s Great Works course, which, she says, often awakens unexpected literary sensibilities in Baruch’s business-minded undergraduates.

Zane Berzins
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