A native of Stillwater, Oklahoma, CASPAR Director Andrea Bradley Hearn came to Nashville in 2001 to pursue a Ph.D. in English at Vanderbilt specializing in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century British literature. A senior lecturer in the Department of English, she enjoys teaching upper-level British literature surveys as well as Jane Austen seminars for first-year students. She is a Big Sister and a regional co-coordinator of the Jane Austen Society of North America. She likes to walk dogs with her husband and cat and read mysteries, gardening memoirs, and children’s books with talking animals. Her favorite food is her mother’s chicken-fried steak.
A native of Natchez, Mississippi, CASPAR Assistant Director Anna Catesby Yant is a Southern belle who doesn’t mind getting a little dirty. She completed her Ph.D. in Anthropology at Vanderbilt, and her research focuses on the relationship between architecture, power, and social change. She is a Maya archaeologist and no, she is not at all like Indiana Jones. During the fall, she loves to watch LSU football, and in the spring, it’s “crawfish time.” In her spare time, she can usually be found chasing around two small children, her husband, and their dog.
Faith Barter grew up in Maine, where it never occurred to her that she might one day live out of the rocky shoreline's reach. She lived in another corner of New England during her undergraduate years at Dartmouth College, as well as Washington, D.C., where she practiced law at one of those big corporate law firms. She moved to Nashville in 2011 to do a Ph.D. in English at Vanderbilt, where she currently teaches in English and Women's and Gender Studies. She reads and writes about the relationship between law and literature in the nineteenth-century United States, with a focus on African American literary responses to legalized slavery. In her spare time, she attends concerts of aging (and/or obscure) singers, roams the walking trails through her local park, and tries to remain competent at the piano.
Laura Birdsall grew up in Los Angeles County, where she received her B.A. in Anthropology from UCLA in 2009. She worked at a museum in Ohio, then ran a used bookstore, then lived in Rabat for a while. She is the editor of an anthology of writing by inmates on Tennessee's Death Row, a workshop for whom she taught with other volunteers when she arrived in Nashville. In 2016, she received her MFA in Fiction from Vanderbilt. She has a mid-range mutt named Tuba. Tuba is a good dog.
Born and raised in Connecticut, Lauren Campbell came to Nashville in 2007 to pursue graduate studies in Physics and Astronomy. She earned her M.A. from Fisk University, then completed her Ph.D. at Vanderbilt in 2015. Interested in the structure and formation of galaxies like our Milky Way, she combines computer models with large datasets like the Sloan Digital Sky Survey to look for stars traveling with unexpected orbits. While at Vanderbilt, she became actively engaged at the Center for Teaching and helped develop online teaching tools for science educators. Outside of the office she enjoys reading, playing board games, and spending time at the park with her son and husband.
Originally from a small town in central Florida, C.J. Davies completed his Ph.D. in Philosophy at Vanderbilt, specializing in contemporary European philosophy. His research focuses especially on ethical and political themes in late-twentieth- and early-twenty-first-century French thought. His teaching ranges from introductory courses on foundational figures in the Western tradition to upper-level courses on Existentialism and French Feminism. As a former Philosophy major, C.J. clearly does not think that the only goal of education is to land a job. In his spare time, his hands can be found holding either weights or an electric guitar.
Miriam Erickson is a Nashville native but has enjoyed living in European cities, Central American villages, and New England towns. She received her B.A. from David Lipscomb in Comparative Literature and went into the work force as a reporter at the Tennessee state capitol. She returned to academia in 2006 with a Masters in Classics at St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland, where she also gained a love of oysters and learned how to sail. Miriam came home to Nashville to get her Ph.D. in History at Vanderbilt, where she recently completed her dissertation on black militia communities in the Haitian Revolution. While researching in the archives in Guatemala, Miriam met her husband Joren. They live in a tiny little house near Edgehill where they grow peppers, onions, and tomatoes for some really great salsa.
Stephanie Higgs grew up in Colorado Springs, CO, a fervent reader with dreams of becoming a professional ballet dancer or a pastry chef. She attended Washington University in St. Louis, double majoring in English and French. Wooed by the challenges and rewards of literary analysis, she moved to Nashville in 2009 to pursue a PhD in English at Vanderbilt, specializing in 19th-century British and American literature. Her research focused on the cotton industry, exploring how Victorians on both sides of the Atlantic mitigated or suppressed their awareness of race- and class-based exploitation in order to justify participation in consumer culture. Having successfully defended her dissertation, Stephanie received a rare opportunity to revisit her childhood dream and work as a pastry cook at several of Nashville’s top restaurants. She’s now thrilled to return to the academic fold, but this by no means spells an end to her elaborate baking experiments.
Born in East Germany, five-year-old Oliver Knabe was happy when the Iron Curtain fell since that would allow him to get his BA and MA from the Free University—a school located in one of the west districts of Berlin. During his teenage years, he lived in Tennessee where he attended McNairy Central High School as a foreign exchange student and learned to say words like "ain’t," "mayonnaise," and "fixin' to." Before he came to Vanderbilt, where he discovered his love for chocolate chip cookies, pizza, and Friday movie nights, he used to participate in marathons, triathlons, and bike-and-runs. Today, he possesses a vast knowledge of German literature (which earned him a Ph.D. at Vanderbilt in 2017) and 500 Euros worth of soccer stadium stocks.
Born in Annapolis, Maryland, Adam Miller has now held residence in six of the fifty states (Florida, Washington, Georgia, Virginia, and Tennessee). He earned a bachelor’s degree from The College of William and Mary before matriculating at Vanderbilt, where he wrote a bunch of stuff in exchange for a doctorate in English Literature. He now writes about the long eighteenth century, specializing in its histories of science and technology. He is also a magician, by the way, and promises that if you turn in your materials on time, he will tell you how the trick is done.
Aurora Romero is a native of Southern California, where she learned to appreciate dry heat and ocean breezes. Upon graduating high school she decided not to go to college and instead attended a technical school. Aurora worked as a drafter-detailer in the trade show industry before growing bored and enrolling in community college. After attempting everything from the violin to the steel drums, she discovered that she was, alas, not a musician but rather had a knack for foreign languages, especially German. She later transferred to UC-Irvine where she majored in both Spanish and German and minored in Jewish Studies (stopping to learn Yiddish in New York along the way). In 2009 Aurora moved to Nashville to attend Vanderbilt, bringing with her nothing but her car, a broken ankle, several pet birds, and the burning desire to study German literature. Her research interests include poetry (in many languages) and poetic identity, fairy tales and their adaptations, and German-Jewish literature from the nineteenth century onward. In her spare time, Aurora enjoys playing with the cutest birds in the world, Coco and Baby, making soup, and dabbling in even more foreign languages.