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Full-Time Faculty

Hollis Robbins, winner of the 2014 Excellence in Teaching Award, has taught at Peabody since 2006.  She is on sabbatical during the 2017-2018 school year.  Robbins holds a PhD in English from Princeton University (2003), an MPP from Harvard University (1990), and a BA in the Writing Seminars from Johns Hopkins (1983).  She has edited five books on nineteenth-century African American literature, most recently the Penguin Portable Nineteenth Century African American Women Writers. Her book Forms of Contention: the African American Sonnet Tradition is under contract with University of Georgia Press.  Courses taught at Peabody include:  Humanities Core I, Core II, Core III, Core IV; Nineteenth Century Novel to Film, Modern Drama, Literary Trials: Justice in Black and White; African American Poetry and Poetics; World Film, Film History: Sound and Scores, Literature of Imprisonment, Bible as Literature, 20th Century Aesthetics and Politics, U.S. History: Civil Rights. 

Robert D. Day received his PhD in English from Johns Hopkins in 2015 and is working on a book project on ethos and political commitment in the works of Wyndham Lewis, George Orwell, C.L.R. James, and Doris Lessing. His teaching experience includes courses on the modernist novel, Oscar Wilde, censorship and obscenity in literature, political rhetoric and dissent, modern drama, and James Joyce’s Ulysses. In 2015-2016, he was a postdoctoral fellow in the Expository Writing program and director of the Writing Center at Johns Hopkins. 



Ron Levy has been a Peabody faculty member since 1993. He serves as Department Chair during the 2017-2018 academic year.  Prior to Peabody, Ron taught in the history department of Colorado College. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago, pursuing research interests in European intellectual history and the history of science. His professional life began with musical endeavors as a violinist with the Colorado Springs Symphony (1976 - 1982), pursuing interests in historical performance practice as a Thomas J. Watson Fellow (1984 - 85) and as a member of Chicago's period instrument ensemble,The City Musick (1986 - 90). Since 1994 Ron has worked with colleagues at other conservatories and arts schools nationally through the Consortium for the Liberal Education of Artists, co-chairing the organization since 2000. 

Jelena Runić coordinates the ESL Program.  Runić obtained her Ph.D. in linguistics from the University of Connecticut. Her research interests include both theoretical and applied linguistics. In theoretical linguistics, she has worked on the morphosyntax of Slavic, Romance, Balkan, and East Asian languages, by exploring clitics, null arguments, and definiteness, among others. In applied linguistics, she has conducted research on error treatment in academic writing in order to help ESL writers overcome most persistent grammar mistakes. She has also worked on contrastive rhetoric by exploring the representation of the self between East and West.  Runić has worked with non-native speakers of English  since 1995, in both Serbia and the United States. In addition to ESL/EFL, she has taught general linguistics, Romanian, and Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian languages at the University of Belgrade, Indiana University, and University of Connecticut. For more information about ESL Click here.)

Visiting and Part-Time Faculty

Jim Ashton received his Ph.D. in 2015 from the department of History at Johns Hopkins University. His work links patriotism and nationalist ideologies to the culture and practice of music in 19th century America. He holds a B.A. in History from Miami University (Ohio), an M.A.A. from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (as well as an M.B.A. from the University of Cincinnati College of Business), and M.A.s in History from George Mason University and Johns Hopkins University. Jim’s career before returning to graduate school was in arts management, where he worked in development and program administration for a variety of not-for-profit arts organizations in the Cincinnati area.

Adam Culver received his PhD in Political Science Department from Johns Hopkins University in 2015. He received his B.A. in Political Science from Grinnell College in 2005 and his M.A. in Political Science from Johns Hopkins University in 2007. His research interests are situated at the intersection between comparative racial politics and contemporary political theory, and his work engages an array of intellectual traditions, including Greek Tragedy, German Romanticism, Afro-American prophecy, continental philosophy, critical race theory, post-colonial studies, Black Nationalism, and agonistic pluralism. He is currently working on a dissertation titled “Race and Vision: A Tragic Reading” that explores a set of creative intersections between romanticism, Nietzschean thought, and black politics in thought and action.  When he is not teaching, researching, or writing, Adam enjoys working on music and DJing at various venues throughout Baltimore City. He was named “Best DJ at a Club” in 2008 by the Baltimore City Paper and has performed with numerous recording artists, including DJ Scottie B, The Death Set, Leif, Das Racist, Spankrock, and Diplo. 

Carol Haddaway is a part-time faculty for the ESL 1 classes. She most recently served as a Senior English Language Fellow of the U.S. Department of State at Yangon University in Myanmar and in similar postings in Belarus, Ukraine and Syria where in addition to teaching English, she conducted teacher training methodology, developed curricula and materials.  Carol started her ESL career with Anne Arundel Community College as an ESL Instructional Specialist and was also an adjunct teacher trainer with UMBC in the e-Teacher Scholarship Program and the English Language Institute.  She also worked as a project officer in the Asia/Near East Divisions at Johns Hopkins University Center for Communication Programs in the School of Public Health. She holds a M.A. degree in Instructional Systems Design, ESOL Bilingual from the University of Maryland (UMBC) and a M.Sc. degree in Applied Behavioral Sciences from JHU

Laura Kafka-Price, instructor of French, earned a PhD in musicology from the University of Maryland at College Park and degrees in voice and French from University of Alaska and MethodistUniversity in NC. She has taught music and foreign languages at various levels of instruction including University of Maryland College Park, Georgetown University, Shippensburg University and L’École d’Immersion Française Robert Goddard. She has articles and reviews among her publications and numerous concert and recital engagements.


Deborah McGee Mifflin is Associate Teaching Professor in the Department of German and Romance Languages and Literatures of Johns Hopkins University, where she serves as the German Language Program Director and Graduate Teaching Assistant Supervisor. She has studied at the Universität Hamburg, Temple University (BA, MA), and Georgetown University, where she completed advanced graduate study in applied linguistics and second language acquisition in German. Her major areas of interest are the theory and practice of adult foreign language learning and teaching, second language acquisition, classroom interaction, and L2 oral production, as well as contemporary German issues. Her interest in contemporary German culture and classroom instruction is reflected in her co-authored advanced German textbook publication, Was ist deutsch?  Working with the German Embassy in Washington, DC, she organized Homewood campus events as part of the initiatives Freedom without Walls (2009), Do Deutsch (2010), Think Transatlantic (2012) and 25 Years Fall of the Wall (2014).  Most recently, Professor Mifflin was elected to the Executive Council of the national organization, American Association of Teachers of German (AATG).

La Toya Bianca Smith, MS, EdS, PhD is a Senior Staff Employee Assistance Clinician for the Johns Hopkins University and Health System Faculty, Staff, and Student Assistance Program (FASAP/JHSAP).  Dr. Smith initially joined the Hopkins family in 2012 to complete her APA-Approved Psychology Doctoral Internship at the JHU Counseling Center.  During her internship, Dr. Smith continued her commitment to diversity, inclusion, and issues of social justice by working with institutional and community entities to establish the JHU Sexual Assault Helpline, collaborating with the Office of Multicultural Affairs to create a Student of Color Therapy Support Group, and joining institutional affinity and diversity groups.  Dr. Smith completed her PhD in a social justice focused Counseling Psychology program at the University of Kentucky where she also earned a Specialist in Education with an emphasis on counseling traditionally marginalized populations.  Her research and clinical interests include the factors that contribute to psychological and academic wellbeing—especially among traditionally marginalized populations, program development, outreach, and suicide.  Her work is largely influenced by positive psychology and strength based approaches and she believes in establishing a secure therapeutic alliance in order to empower those with whom she works.  Dr. Smith has chaired and co-chaired the First Generation College Student subcommittee of the DLC since 2014

Oliver Thorndike, received his Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University [2009]. He specializes in Immanuel Kant’s epistemology, ethics, and aesthetics. He has published articles on the influence of the early modern philosopher Baumgarten on Kant’s ethical thought [2008, 2010]. He is the editor of “Rethinking Kant” [2011, 2014]. His paper “Kant’s conception of time in the transcendental aesthetic” is forthcoming [2014]. His article “Kant’s conception of music” is in preparation. Currently, he is finishing his book “Kant’s Transition Project.” Since 2014 he has been the Chair of the Committee of the North American Kant Society (NAKS) in its Eastern Division. Among his recently taught classes are “Nietzsche, Schopenhauer, and Wagner,” “Kant’s Theory of Art,” and “Introduction to the Philosophy of Art.”

Robert Webber received his PhD in Classics from Johns Hopkins in 2015 and works on Roman law, particularly the use of invective in criminal trials.  His side interests include Homer, Proto-Indo-European and Greek historiography and he is currently working on an article about cross-cultural discourses on cabbage as an analeptic.  His teaching experiences include Greek and Latin, cultural history, ancient law, Homeric epic, and the debate over privacy in the ancient and contemporary world.


Gavin Witt has been at Center Stage since 2002, first as Resident Dramaturg and then as Associate Artistic Director. He spent the previous decade in Chicago as Dramaturg at Northlight and Court Theatres; as Academic Coordinator of University Theater at the University of Chicago; and as a founding company member of the classically based theater ensemble, greasy joan & co. As a dramaturg, his work has ranged from Sophocles and Shakespeare to Stoppard, Shaffer, and their contemporary peers—including freelance and developmental dramaturgy for TCG, Playwrights Center, The Old Globe, Bay Area Playwrights Festival, CATF, National New Play Network, The New Harmony Project, and the Kennedy Center. Directing highlights include a half-dozen Shakespeare plays, Ostrovsky’s A Family Affair, dozens of new play workshops and staged readings, and most recently the Center Stage production of Twelfth Night. A graduate of Yale and the University of Chicago—where his studies focused on English Renaissance literature and drama—he was active in Chicago theater for over a decade as an actor, director, dramaturg, translator, and teacher. In addition to teaching on the faculty of the University of Chicago, Barat College, and DePaul University, he consulted for the Chicago Humanities Festival, and guest lectured at the Graham School of General Studies, Oak Park Shakespeare Festival, and Department of Cultural Affairs. Since arriving in Baltimore, he has taught a variety of courses as adjunct faculty at Towson University, and guest lectured at UMBC Honors College, Stevenson University, and others. Among his theatrical adaptations and translations are versions of Shakespeare’s Pericles, Marlowe’s Tamburlaine, Ovid’s Metamorphoses, and Ionesco’s Macbett; his co-translation of Beaumarchais’ Barber of Seville was subsequently published. He serves on the advisory board of several small theaters, is an active member of the Dramaturgy Focus Group of ATHE, presents regularly on panels and at conferences around the country, serves as an evaluator and adjudicator for national arts funding awards, and proudly spent many years as a regional vice-president of LMDA, the national association of dramaturgs.

Alessandro Zannirato is Associate Teaching Professor and Director of the Italian Language Program at the Johns Hopkins University; he received his PhD from the School of Languages and Literatures of the University of Cape Town, South Africa.  An applied linguist and conference interpreter by training, his research interests include foreign language pedagogy, program evaluation, interpreting, and L2 teacher training. Before coming to Hopkins, he taught foreign languages to music and voice students at Alla Scala Academy in Milan, Italy, and at the South African College of Music in Cape Town. 


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