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Robert Barsky

Professor of English, French, and Jewish Studies
Professor of Law

Robert Barsky works at the intersection of language studies, literature and law, with applicatons to border crossings, language theory, radical American milieus, and literatures of the 19th and 20th centuries in English and French.

He is the author or editor of numerous books on narrative and law, including Undocumented Immigrants in an Era of Arbitrary Law: The Flight and Plight of Peoples' Deemed 'Illegal' (2016); Arguing and Justifying: Assessing the Convention Refugees' Choice of the Moment, Motive, and Host Country (2000); Constructing a Productive Other: Discourse Theory and the Convention Refugee Hearing (1994). His works on radical theory and practice include Zellig Harris: From American Linguistics to Socialist Zionism (2011); The Chomsky Effect: A Radical Works beyond the Ivory Tower (2007); and Noam Chomsky: A Life of Dissent (1997). He has also written a handbook on literary theory (Introduction à la Théorie littéraire), the first of its kind in the French language, with an updated version forthcoming in 2017.

He is the founding editor of the border crossing journal AmeriQuests (, the founding editor of Discours social/Social Discourse, and the co-director, with Daniel Gervais, of the Literature and Law Seminar at Vanderbilt's Robert Penn Warren Center. He has been a visiting professor at a number of universities worldwide, including Yale University; the University of Northampton; the Institute for Advanced Studies, Toulouse, France; and the Law School of VU University of Amsterdam.

During the summer of 2016, he was a Visiting Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities at the University of Edinburgh, where he began preparing a new book on "first encounters" between migrants and officials from the host country, for Cambridge UP Law.His first novel, Hatched, will appear in the autumn of 2016, with Sunbury Press.