Yale Alumni College: Faculty

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Mitchell Nobel
YACOL courses taught: To Stand By Things Decided

Mitchell Nobel is an associate in the Litigation Department of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton and Garrison. Between 2016 and 2017, he served as a law clerk to Judge Paul V. Niemeyer on the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, where he assisted on cases covering constitutional issues such as legislative prayer and President Trump’s travel ban. He is a member of the Yale Law School Class of 2016 and the Ezra Stiles Class of 2013. While at Yale, he directed a production of Glengarry Glen Ross and edited The Yale Record, a comedy magazine.

Kendrick Norris

YACOL courses taught: An Introduction to the Psychology of C.G. Jung and its Relevance to the Second Half of Life

The Rev. Kendrick Norris, D.Min., Ph.D., was raised on Long Island in the 1950’s, grew up in New York City in the 1960’s, made his way to New Haven in the 1970’s and then settled in Guilford, CT. As the pastor of a progressive protestant church for thirty-six years, Kendrick fostered an inclusive faith community that blossomed in mutual respect and care and reached out to the world in healing ministries. One example: the church settled more than 150 refugees from every part of the globe. The invitation was clear: “No matter who you are or where you are on life’s journey you are welcome here.” As a Jungian Analyst, Kendrick has a private practice as well as being actively involved in leadership roles of the Jungian communities in NYC and Connecticut. He particularly enjoys offering classes and giving lectures to therapists and the larger public about the insights of C.G. Jung. Now in his sixties, Kendrick is finding Jung a helpful mentor in this new time of metamorphosis. Kendrick has three children and two grandchildren, and is married to Mary Luders Norris, an alumna of Wellesley and a book acquisitions editor.

Jeff Nunokawa

YACOL courses taught:  George Eliot for Grown-Ups; The Groups: Women and Society in Austen, Wharton and McCarthy

Ph.D., Cornell University, B.A. Yale University. Jeff Nunokawa specializes in English literature from about 1830 till about 1900. His first book, The Afterlife of Property, studies how the novels of Dickens and Eliot labor to preserve the idea of secure possession by overseeing its transfer from the sphere of a cold and uncertain economy to a happier realm of romance. Tame Passions of Wilde: Styles of Manageable of Desire excavates the aspiration to imagine a form of desire as intense as those that compel us, but as light as the daydream or thought experiment safely under our control. He has also written a bunch of articles about this and that aspect of nineteenth century literature. You can ask him about them, if you are interested. His current project is a book whose working title is something like “Eros and Isolation: Getting Away from Others in Nineteenth Century Literature”. This book brings a range of social theory to bear on writers like Austen, C. Brontë, Thackeray, Dickens and Eliot to figure out why it’s so hard to break free, even for a little while, from the groups that surround and define us. Most generally, he is interested in the ways that various ideas of society clash and collaborate with one another. Before his day is done, he hopes to write a book about Henry James.

Annabel Patterson

YACOL courses taught: Milton’s Paradise Lost; Doomed Loves

Professor Annabel Patterson is Sterling Professor Emeritus in English at Yale. She has written many books and articles on 16th and 17th century literature, including Milton’s Words (Oxford), and political history—The Long Parliament of Charles II (Yale)—both of which were written during her fairly recent retirement. In other words, there is still tread on the tire. She came to Yale in 1994 after teaching at Duke University, the University of Maryland, York University in Canada and the University of Toronto. A native of England, Professor Patterson emigrated to Canada in her early 20s. She earned a B.A. at the University of Toronto, and an M.A. (with distinction) and a Ph.D. at the University of London in 1965.

James Polsky

YACOL courses taught: The Landscape of Jazz

Jazz has been a part of James’ life for as long as he can recall. James started playing drums at 8 and jazz at 10. After a summer at Eastman School of Music, then Yale, law school and a brief stint at a corporate firm, James decided that he wanted to make jazz a permanent part of his life. In the mid 90’s, James launched the Jazz Standard Club on East 27 St., subsequently partnering with his cousin Danny Meyer who combined the club with Blue Smoke on the floor above.  

Being around the music and musicians, and recognizing the paucity of meaningfully paying work led James to create Keyed Up!, a 501(c)(3) that supplements gig payments for 30 weekly engagements in neighborhood bars and cafes https://jazzgeneration.org/. These venues, which charge no cover, showcase some of New York’s finest musicians who are between larger gigs and tours, while introducing new audiences to the music. Keyed Up! provides a vehicle for musicians to keep their chops up, maintain their visibility on the scene, and functions as part of the New York jazz ecosystem for musicians who might sit in on a number of gigs in a single night. James started and plays the weekly Keyed Up! session at Down & Out, an East Village bar owned by a former Jazz Standard employee.

Rabbi James Ponet

YACOL courses taught: Life's Big Questions; Rethinking God; God as State of Mind: Mental Experiences of Divinity; Why Do the Righteous Suffer? – The Many Faces of Job; Martin Buber: The Hunger to Live In Relation to “You”; God and the Pleasures, Pathologies, and Perversities of Love; War and the Western Imagination

Rabbi James Ponet was the Howard M. Holtzmann Jewish Chaplain at Yale, where he had served as a religious leader since 1981. He earned his undergraduate degree from Yale in Religious studies and his masters and doctoral degrees from Hebrew Union College, where he was ordained in 1973. Rabbi Ponet lived in Israel from 1974-1981, studying Jewish thought at Hebrew University in Jerusalem and serving as a Fellow and teacher at both the Shalom Hartman Institute and the Pardes Institute. He returned from Israel in 1981 to become Yale’s Jewish Chaplain, a position he had held for over three decades.
Jim was a visiting lecturer at Yale Law School where he taught a course on Job and Injustice. He also taught a college seminar (not for credit) in Timothy Dwight on “The Family in the Jewish Tradition” with Dr. Ruth Westheimer. Currently, he teaches a course at the Divinity School entitled "Introduction to American Judaism."

Markus Rathey

YACOL courses taught: Bach: Composer for Gods and Kings; Bach and… His Musical World; Polyglot Handel
Professor Rathey is a specialist in the works of Johann Sebastian Bach, 17th and 18th century music, and the relationship between music, religion, and politics during the Enlightenment. Rathey studied musicology, Protestant theology, and German in Bethel and Münster. He taught at the University of Mainz and the University of Leipzig and was a research fellow at the Bach-Archiv, Leipzig, before joining the Yale faculty in 2003. Rathey’s two recent books, both published in 2016, explore some of the most important works by Johann Sebastian Bach. His book, Johann Sebastian Bach’s Christmas Oratorio: Music, Theology, Culture (Oxford University Press 2016) is the first study of this composition in English and it not only sheds new light on Bach’s compositional practice but it also locates the oratorio within the religious and social landscape of eighteenth-century Germany. Rathey’s second recent book is an introduction to Bach’s Major Vocal Works(Yale University Press, 2016). Within the short time since its publication, the book has become a standard work on Bach’s sacred vocal music, praised for its depth but also its accessibility. As one reviewer highlights, it is a prime example for “bringing musicology to the public.” The book also appeared in a Japanese translation in 2017. 

Walter Reed

YACOL courses taught: The Art of The Short Story

Walter L. Reed received his graduate training in English and American literature and later taught as Assistant Professor at Yale; he went on to become Associate Professor and Professor of English at the University of Texas at Austin, where he also served as Director of the Comparative Literature Program. He came to Emory in 1987 as Chair of the English Department, serving later as Director of Undergraduate Studies for Comparative Literature, Director of the Center for Teaching and Curriculum in the College, and most recently, from 2002-2009, as Director of the Graduate Institute of the Liberal Arts. He is currently the William Rand Kenan, Jr. University Professor in English and the ILA and a core-faculty member of Comparative Literature.

Robert (Reuven) Russell

YACOL courses taught: Classic Plays- Timeless Ideas; Contemporary Theater: The Drama of Modern Life; Great Plays, Timeless Ideas; Timeless Shakespeare

An accomplished actor, director, teacher and comedian with an extensive theatrical background, Reuven is the Artistic Director of the Stern College Dramatic Society at Yeshiva University where some of his directing credits include Hamlet, The Government Inspector, All My Sons, Our Town, The Odd Couple and The Importance of Being Earnest. A student of the late Stella Adler, and a graduate of the Yale School of Drama, he has also taught Acting at the University of New Haven. Reuven has been seen on the TV hit, ER and in the feature films Chaplin, Inside Monkey Zetterland, The Proprietor and Advice and Dissent with Eli Wallach and Rebecca Pidgeon. At Yale, he directed and co-starred with Paul Giamatti in Glengarry Glen Ross. He can currently be seen in the popular web series Soon By You. He has acted in productions at the Williamstown Theater Festival, Illinois Shakespeare Festival, and Long Wharf Theater. Other directing credits include Speed the Plow, Vanities, The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial as well as 8 short films for Project SARAH. Off Broadway, he originated the role of Hersh in The Quarrel, and has toured nationally in Neil Simon’s The Sunshine Boys starring Mickey Rooney and Donald O’Connor. His one-man show, Gathering the Sparks, has played to audiences in over 100 cities around the world. Reuven currently teaches Theater, and Public Speaking at Yeshiva University, and is the proud son of the late comedian and Jewish humorist Joey Russell.

Jeffrey Sammons

YACOL courses taught: Goethe's Faust
Jeffrey L. Sammons returned to Yale in 1964 after a three-year appointment at Brown University, continuing to serve on the faculty until retirement at the end of 2001. Chairman, Department of German, 1969-77, 1988-91; Director, Yale Summer Language Institute, 1980-84. Topics of his research include Heine, Young Germany and the Vormärz, literary sociology, nineteenth-century realists, especially Raabe and Spielhagen, and German fiction about America. Most recent book publications: Friedrich Spielhagen: Novelist of Germany’s False Dawn (2004), Heinrich Heine: Alternative Perspectives 1985-2005 (2006), and Kuno Francke’s Edition of The German Classics (1913-15): A Critical and Historical Overview (2009), as well as a translation with commentary: Heinrich Heine, Ludwig Börne: A Memorial (2006). Editor, North American Studies in Nineteenth-Century German Literature (43 vols.). Among his honors: Guggenheim Fellowship; American Council of Learned Societies Fellowship and travel grant; member, Connecticut Academy of Arts and Sciences; Humphrey Fellowship, Ben-Gurion University, Israel; Craig Distinguished Visiting Professor of German, Rutgers University.

David Eric Searls

YACOL courses taught: 

David Eric C. Searls, M.D. (Yale Med, 2007), is the attending physician on the Stroke Service at Beth Israel Deaconness Medical Center. Dr. Searls received his MD degree from University at Buffalo, The State University of New York, in 2003. He completed his neurology residency at Yale-New Haven Medical Center in 2007 and a vascular neurology fellowship at BIDMC in 2008. Dr. Searls then joined the neurology faculty at BIDMC/Harvard Medical School in 2008. He is board certified in neurology and vascular neurology by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. He is the medical director of the Transcranial Doppler Ultrasound Laboratory, BIDMC. His research interests are focused on the prediction of stroke risk using transcranial doppler ultrasound. He lives in Brookline with his wife, April, also a Yale alum, (Yale Med,2007), and their son Caleb

Wake Smith

YACOL courses taught: Playing God in the Climate Arena

Wake Smith is a Lecturer in Yale College, where he teaches what is understood to be the world’s first undergraduate survey course on climate interventions. The core of that course was published in book form in March 2022. Smith is also a Senior Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School. He has published papers on the aeronautics, costs, and deployment logistics of stratospheric aerosol injection as well as on the proper governance of research into these technologies. He finished his business career in private equity with New York based New State Capital. He previously served as: Chairman and President of Pemco World Air Services; Chief Operating Officer of Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings; and President of the flight training division of Boeing. He holds a BA in History from Yale (TC ’79) and an MBA from Harvard
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