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James R. Weiss Ph.D, teaches in The Writing Program at Boston University and in the Department of History at Salem State University. He is the author of The Marquis de Sade’s Veiled Social Criticism: The Depravities of Sodom as the Perversities of France (The Edwin Mellen Press, 2008) as well as “Fortress Forever at the Ready: The Jewish Ethos in the Byzantine Imagination and its Ruthenian Translation” (Greek Orthodox Theological Review/ Fall-Winter 2001) and numerous articles and reviews.
My education has been unusual. When I entered Washington and Lee University in Fall 1984, I was confronted with a unique dilemma. My interest in History had been with me since age seven, yet I was also drawn to literature and languages and the power of prose and poetry. Where was I to turn? Ultimately, I chose to pursue my degree in History since I could indulge in the other two under its aegis. From the Shenandoah Valley, I then proceeded to study the intellectual and theological underpinnings of Tudor and Stuart England at the University of Cincinnati, and though I had found the answers to some questions, I was left with myriad others.
Though I had hoped to pursue my Tudor-Stuart studies at The Ohio State University, there was no scholar in residence at that time who could guide me, and it was suggested that I consider the Department of Black Studies. During my time there (1990-91), I considered the parallels between the slave trade and the convict lease system as it evolved in the South during the Antebellum period and, more so, the psychology which drove this system and its influence on social development.
Upon arriving at West Virginia University for my Ph.D, I had to change once more. Since my days at Washington and Lee, I had carried Imperial Russia as a minor field and was able to cultivate it throughout my graduate school years. With the sudden retirement of the WVU’s only scholar in Tudor-Stuart History after my first year, I took up my minor field as my major and, in 2000, received my Ph.D with my dissertation, The Metamorphoses of Jewish Identities in Nineteenth-Century Russia 1801-1894. A bit of a stretch? Consider that I concentrated on theological and intellectual issues throughout my undergraduate and graduate years and, thus, was able to be flexible without becoming disoriented.
Because of my experiences, I have been able to teach a variety of courses in various disciplines. During my twenty-five years of university teaching, I have taught history, literature, philosophy, classics, and college writing. In addition to engaging in intelligent discourse with students, friends and acquaintances, I love to travel with my wife to Europe, France, Italy and the U.K. in particular, and play a round of golf when the weather is agreeable. We also enjoy our Scottish Terriers and other dogs who have come into our lives throughout the years. I also shoot skeet since there is no bloodletting involved and it keeps my hand-eye coordination in suitable condition.