Master of Arts in Liberal Studies

The Committee on Graduate Studies

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Faculty members of the Committee on Graduate Studies serve as advisers to MALS students, attend thesis orals boards, assist with the evaluation of initial and candidacy applications, and set policies and curriculum for the program. Membership in the committee varies from year to year. Members for the 2015–16 academic year include:

Walter Englert, chair

Omar and Althea Hoskins Professor of Classical Studies and Humanities
BA 1974 St. Mary's College. MA 1976 University of California, Santa Barbara. PhD 1981 Stanford University. Reed College 1981–.
Academic interests: Greek and Latin literature, ancient philosophy.

Evgenii Bershtein

Professor of Russian
MA 1990 Tartu University, Estonia. PhD 1998 University of California, Berkeley. Reed College 1999–.
Academic interests: Russian symbolism, the semiotics of Soviet culture, gender and sexuality in Russian culture, eighteenth- and nineteenth-century poetry.

Jacqueline Dirks

Cornelia Marvin Pierce Professor of History and Humanities
BA 1982 Reed College. MA, MPhil 1986, PhD 1996 Yale University. Reed College 1991–.
Academic interests:
American social and cultural history, United States women's history.

Laura Leibman

Professor of English and Humanities
BA 1989 University of California, Davis. MA 1993, PhD 1995 University of California, Los Angeles. Reed College 1995–.
Academic interests: Early American literature and culture, American poetry, poetics and ethnopoetics, Native American literature and culture, postcolonial theory, gender theory, American studies.

Lena Lencek

Professor of Russian and Humanities
BA 1970 Barnard College. AM 1972 Harvard University. Reed College 1977–.
Academic interests: Medieval Russian, romanticism and symbolism, twentieth-century poetry, narrative theory, Old Church Slavonic.

Thomas Wieting 

(Fall only)
Professor of Mathematics
BS 1960 Washington and Lee University. PhD 1973 Harvard University. Reed College 1965-.
Academic interests: differential geometry and ergodic theory, Copernican Revolution.


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Teaching a MALS course was a rare pleasure for me. The MALS students amaze me with their ability to bring so much energy to the classroom. They truly understand the value of learning for learning’s sake and they want to get the most of each minute of class discussion. Students like this energize a teacher. The classroom becomes a place where one has the ultimate luxury of bouncing ideas off of one another, trying out different interpretations of the text, and maybe even getting new perspectives on some of the really big questions. MALS students don’t ever take the classroom for granted – they know that, if everyone puts work into the conversation, it can be the locus of transformative discussions and collective refinement of great ideas.

The MALS students clearly have developed a culture of respect and generosity towards one another. I have the impression that over the course of several classes together, they know each other very well and enjoy the fact that they are in a small program. Everyone is comfortable with one another and this greatly increases the quality of discussion in the classroom.

Professor of French & Humanities