Burt and Gessel awarded named professorships

Two faculty members have earned appointment to named chairs, which they will hold for the duration of their time at Brandeis.

John Burt has become the fifth Paul E. Prosswimmer Professor of American Literature. Burt’s most recent book, “Lincoln’s Tragic Pragmatism,” attracted critical acclaim and media attention for its close analysis of the ideas and rhetoric that colored the 1858 Lincoln-Douglas debates. His research interests lie in the areas of 19th- and 20th-century American literature, Southern gothic fiction and American romantic fiction.

Burt says he is “deeply grateful” for the appointment and notes that “it will be a challenge to live up to the example” set by the previous Prosswimmer Professors. “I promise to do my best to fulfill the promise of the tribute Brandeis has given me,” he says.

In the Department of Mathematics, Ira Gessel is now the fourth Theodore W. and Evelyn G. Berenson Professor. A 2013 fellow of the American Mathematical Society, Gessel does research in the area of combinatorics, the science of counting finite structures.

“It is a great honor to be awarded the Berenson Chair,” Gessel says. “The mathematics department has been a wonderful place to teach and do research, and I look forward to continuing my work here for years to come.”

Susan J. Birren, dean of arts and sciences, praises both appointments. “Although they work in very different fields, both John’s work on American poetry and fiction and Ira’s work on combinatorics are examples of world-class scholarship that we are very proud of here at Brandeis. I am delighted that Professor Burt and Professor Gessel have been named to the Prosswimmer Chair in American Literature and the Berenson Chair in Mathematics.”

Categories: General, Humanities and Social Sciences

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