SAGES Fellows 2015/16

There are over a hundred Case Western faculty teaching SAGES courses in any given semester. Among them are twenty-six SAGES Fellows. SAGES Fellows have pigeonholes in the SAGES Fellows’ Office Area (the quad level of Crawford Hall), where essays and correspondence can be dropped off. You’re welcome to come to the SAGES facilities whenever you like, but your professors won’t always be there – please check with them beforehand what their office hours are, and to confirm where you’ll be meeting.

For a list of books written and edited by current SAGES Fellows, click here.

For a directory of SAGES English Lecturers, click here.


(Fall/Spring) USNA259 – Bring Out Your Dead

(Fall/Spring) USSO287C – Murder in the Jazz Age

(Fall) USSY290N – Django Chained

Amy Absher is a historian, teacher, and writer.





arnoff(Spring) USSO234 – Questions of Identity

Gail Arnoff has been teaching since 1967 in a variety of settings: public high schools, hospital psychiatric units, private homes, and universities. In 2005 she became an adjunct professor in the English Department of John Carroll University, where she works primarily with developmental students. In 2006 Gail joined SAGES after having developed the seminar Questions of Identity by using much of her experience as a Facing History and Ourselves teacher. Gail has also worked with student teachers at Cleveland State University. While completing her M.A. in English at John Carroll, Gail presented a paper, ‘Motherless Daughters’, at the Virginia Woolf Conference. At Collinwood High School she founded Collinwood Creations, a journal of poetry and art which offered students the opportunity to have their work published, as well to read their poetry at local book stores. For a number of years Gail has mentored students in I Have a Dream, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, and College Now. Currently, she and her husband serve as host family for international students who attend Case and John Carroll. In 2014 Gail joined the Books@Work program, where she facilitates book discussions in non-academic settings. When not teaching, Gail is either running, practicing yoga, playing the piano, baking, reading, or doting on her six grandchildren.



(Fall) FSSO119 – Philanthropy in America

(Spring) USNA204 – The Evolution of Scientific Ideas

(Fall) USNA287P – Women and Science: Changing Paradigms

(Spring) USSY284 – The Art of Madness



(Fall/Spring) USSO285D – Advertising and the American Dream

Bill Doll is the author of the primer SPEAK, How to Talk to Classmates and Others, which was developed for SAGES and has now been published by Oxford University Press. He is a lawyer with a doctorate in sociology and a former theater critic for The Plain Dealer in Cleveland. Bill heads his own communications and research consulting firm, Bill Doll & Company. Founded in 1988, the firm works on complex communications and advocacy issues. Clients have included banks, law firms, health systems, arts organizations and other not-for-profits, among them National City Corporation, KeyCorp, KPMG/Cleveland, Squire, Sanders & Dempsey, The CSA Health System, Playhouse Square Foundation and the Greater Cleveland Partnership. His articles and speeches for clients have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Fortune Small Business, the Washington Post, the National Law Journal, Vital Speeches, among others. Bill is a former president of the Cleveland Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. For more background and work examples please see here.


(Spring) USSO271 – Schoolhouse Rocked



(Fall) FSSY161 – Culture, Memory and Gender in post-socialist Eastern Europe

(Spring) FSSY280 – Passport to Eastern Europe

(Fall, Spring) USSY286V – Food Craze (No) Reservations

Nárcisz’ primary research interests and teaching experience are in interdisciplinary and comparative studies of gender and sexuality in literature, film, media and cultural studies. Her work also extends into the areas of globalization, studies of representation and identity, and tourism. In her class “Passport to Eastern Europe,” students familiarize themselves with the constructed and textual nature of geopolitical categories such as continents, nation states, and the concepts of East and West. They also gain an understanding of the special histories and cultures of the borderlands of Eastern Europe and its literary and cinematic representations. In her “Global Tourism” class, students consider various tourist activities with critical distance and address their ethical dimensions. Her courses place much emphasis on helping students evaluate cultural encounters and contexts and develop into responsible and culturally sensitive observers. Both of these classes include segments drawn from Nárcisz’ research on the ways in which literary works, films, and the media portray sex tourism and sex trafficking in the former Soviet bloc. She also analyzes practices of migrant work on the European continent and their gender implications, the growth of the mail-bride industry, and the shifting definitions of masculinity in Eastern Europe. Nárcisz has a Ph.D. in English from Case Western Reserve University and completed her pre-doctoral studies in the United States, Finland, and Hungary. She also participated in a seminar organized by the University of Amsterdam’s School for Cultural Analysis on “Media,Globalization, and Post-Communist Eastern European Identities” in 2006. Nárcisz is a recipient of various teaching awards, including the inaugural Richard A. Bloom, M.D., Award for Distinguished Teaching in the SAGES Program. She enjoys traveling and plans to learn documentary film-making.


(Spring) USSO289K – Justice and Social Complexity


(Spring) USSO288B – Doing Good: How Nonprofits Change Lives


(Spring) USNA224 – Food, Farming and Economic Prosperity

Mary Holmes has been involved with the local food movement in Cleveland since 1994 when she co-founded the North Union Farmers’ Market in Shaker Square. She served as that organization’s board president for eight years. In 2005, she wrote a report for The Farmland Center, “Entrepreneurial Farming: Part of the Plan for Economic Prosperity in Northeast Ohio.” In 2006 she became a SAGES Fellow at Case Western Reserve University where she teaches an undergraduate seminar on the topic of changes to the American food system and diet since World War II and the promise of sustainable agriculture. She attended Terra Madre in 2008 and advisors the Slow Food on Campus at Case Western Reserve University. She is currently board president of Innovative Farmers of Ohio, a statewide non-profit organization dedicated to sustainable farming in Ohio. As an independent consultant, Mary has worked primarily with non-profits leading strategic planning and new product development efforts. Mary received her BA in American Studies from the University of Michigan, an MAT degree from Johns Hopkins University, and an MBA from Harvard University.


(Fall/Spring) USSO201 – Society and Technology: Impact


BERNARD L. JIM FSNA116 –  Cities (Under Construction)

(Spring) USSY286U – Puzzled

(Fall, Spring) USSY290C – Out of Proportion

Bernie earned a Ph.D. in History at Case Western Reserve University in August 2006. In his dissertation, Ephemeral Containers: A Cultural and Technological History of Building Demolition, he examines the history of wreckers and wrecking machines, and uses an exploration of the discourse surrounding building demolition as a window into the impact of modernity on notions of progress, the construction of identity, and the American public’s relationship to the built environment. He has presented his work before the societies for historians of technology and historians of architecture, and has published an article on the razing of city hotels in the Journal of Decorative and Propaganda Arts, Issue 25, on “The American Hotel.”  Bernie has taught courses in American History, Technology and Culture, and Technology and Society for Cleveland State University, Weatherhead School of Business, and the history department of Case Western Reserve University. In addition to his academic work, Bernie has experience circulating, maintaining, and developing temporary exhibitions for science and technology museums, and has acted as a researcher in the field of cultural resource management. In his SAGES courses, he asks his students to reconsider the role of the commonplace and the remarkable in the built world and the natural world.


leukart(Fall) USSO285Y – Quest for Perfection: Law as a Vehicle for Social Improvement

Barbara Leukart (B.A., Barnard College; J.D., Case Western Reserve University Law School) is a partner at the law firm Jones Day, where she has represented management in all areas of labor and employment relations, and defended numerous Title VII, age discrimination, and Americans with Disabilities Act cases at the administrative, trial, and appellate levels. Her experience also includes the litigation of wrongful discharge, employment contract, and intentional tort cases. On behalf of employers, she has handled cases brought under the Equal Pay Act, Section 301 of the Taft-Hartley Act, the National Labor Relations Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, and the Employee Retirement Income Security Act. She has experience in counseling companies on a wide range of employment issues, including advice on union representation campaigns, contract negotiations, the creation and implementation of employment policies, the conduct of discrimination investigations, and corporate management reviews conducted by the OFCCP. Pursuant to an appointment by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, Leukart has served on that court’s Advisory Committee on Rules. She has been a member of the Civil Justice Reform Act Task Force for the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio and serves as a mediator for the court. She is a member of the Celebrezze Inn of Court, the ABA (Labor and Employment Law Section), and the Ohio State and Cleveland Bar Associations. Leukart has been admitted to practice before the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the Sixth, Fifth, and Third Circuits. She is listed in Chambers USA directory of America’s Leading Business Lawyers and in Ohio Super Lawyers as a leading Ohio employment lawyer. She currently serves as president of the board of trustees for Cleveland Public Art.



howardmaier(Spring) USNA287J – Transportation in American Life

Howard Maier has worked many years in transportation planning, city and regional planning as well as public administration. He retired in 2012 as Executive Director of the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency (NOACA), a position he held for more than two decades. NOACA provides transportation and environmental planning for Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, Lorain, and Medina Counties. Prior to NOACA, Mr. Maier held other public and private sector positions, including Director of Planning and Development for the City of Cleveland Heights. During his career, Mr. Maier received a number of professional awards and honors. Among others, he is a Fellow of the American Institute of Certified Planners. He also received a Distinguished Alumnus award from the College of Engineering at Ohio State University and was inducted into the Mayfield High School Alumni Hall of Fame. Prior to retirement, he served as President of the Ohio Association of Regional Councils and Treasurer of the Northeast Ohio Sustainable Communities Consortium. Among his current civic activities, Mr. Maier chairs the Senior Transportation Connection of Cuyahoga County. He serves as vice-chair of the Cuyahoga Soil and Water Conservation District. He also co-chairs the Cleveland Heights Transportation Advisory Committee. He has a B.A. (Economics) and a Master of City and Regional Planning both from Ohio State University as well as an M.S. in Public Management from Case Western Reserve University. A lifelong cartoonist, he drew editorial cartoons for the Sun Newspapers in the mid-1970’s and co-wrote the script of the animated cartoon entitled It’s the Greatest Little City. He is married to Sue Maier, a CWRU alumna. They have three adult children and two grandchildren.



(Fall) FSSY155 – The Nature of Creativity

Daniel Melnick is an emeritus professor of English from Cleveland State University, and he has taught in the SAGES program (and occasionally in English) since his retirement from CSU in 2005. The focus of his teaching and research is twentieth century literature and particularly the modern period. His book on music and modern fiction is Fullness of Dissonance: Modern Fiction and the Aesthetics of Music (Fairleigh Dickinson, 1994), and a series of his essays on modern fiction has appeared in various journals – the latest article being about Joseph Conrad’s Under Western Eyes. His on-going series of ‘notes on the modern period’ can be found here. He is also the author of a series of short stories and three novels, Hungry Generations, Acts of Terror and Contrition and the forthcoming The Ash Tree (2015, West of the West Press), which tells the story of an Armenian-American family in California from 1915 to 1972. His B.A. and Ph.D. in English are from the University of California at Berkeley.


(Fall) FSSO153 – Reading Social Justice: The Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards

(Spring) USNA287V – Constructing Ancient and Medieval Memories

(Spring) USSY288E – Fantastic Voyages

(Fall) USSY288V – Seclusion, Gender and the Exotic: Imagining the Harem

 Lisa Nielson is the Anisfield-Wolf SAGES Fellow and appointed as a Lecturer in Music at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, where she teaches classes on diverse topics such as the courtesan, the harem, and world slavery. While at Case, she has been nominated for several prestigious teaching awards, receiving the Richard A. Bloom, MD Award for Distinguished Teaching in the SAGES Program in 2012 and the Carl F. Wittke Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching in 2014. Her research focuses on musicians, musical culture and the relationship between music and society in the medieval Islamic courts; specifically literary representations and social perception of court musicians in the early Abbasid eras. She regularly presents at national and international conferences and her professional affiliations include the American Musicological Society, the Middle East Studies Association, and the Middle East Medievalists.

Dr. N’s other interests include popular music and contemporary literature, and she has contributed reviews and opinion pieces to the Journal for the Society of American Music and the blog for the Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards. A devotee of Henry Rollins and punk rock, her hobbies include loud music, inflicting bad movies on her students each semester for Movie Night and ignoring her new Twitter account.




(Fall) USSO288T – Coffee and Civilization

(Spring) USSO289V – To Everest and Back

(Spring) USSY287X – Paris in the Arts




(Fall) FSSY154 – The Imagination Project

(Fall) USSY289Y – Reading and Writing Biography

Brad Ricca got his Ph.D. in English from CWRU. His book Super Boys: The Amazing Adventures of Jerry Siegel & Joe Shuster -The Creators of Superman (St. Martin’s, 2013) was named a Top 10 Book in the Arts by Booklist and won the 2014 Ohioana Book Award for Nonfiction. He has spoken about comics in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Christian Science Monitor, The Boston Globe, and on NPR’s “All Things Considered.” He won the St. Lawrence Book Award for his first book of poetry, American Mastodon, and is also a filmmaker whose documentary, Last Son, won a Silver Ace Award at the Las Vegas International Film Festival. In 2014, he was awarded a Cleveland Arts Prize for Emerging Artist in Literature.



(Fall, Spring) USSY275 – Colors, Capes and Characters

Michael Sangiacomo has been a hard news reporter for the Plain Dealer in Cleveland since 1989 and has written a syndicated column on comic books since 1993. He has taught Colors, Capes and Characters, a history of comic books in America, since 2006. The course allows him to combine his love of comics with his journalism background. He has written several comic series and graphic novels himself, including the award-winning Tales of the Starlight Drive-In and Phantom Jack, the adventures of a newspaper reporter who can turn invisible. Hard to figure out where that one came from.


(Spring) USSY290O – Indian Literature Since 1950

Dr. Ritu  Sharma has been in this profession for almost twenty years and has taught in various countries. She holds a Ph.D in English and was a valedictorian during M.A. Through her education and work experience, she has integrated technology skills and has developed useful andragogy to accelerate the understanding of the students and to boost the results. She has extensive experience in facilitating online, blended, and hybrid courses. She has been invited by Ohio Dept. of Education for Ohio Assessments for Educators Standard Setting Conferences in 2013.  She had the honor to present for the 6th Biennial Toni Morrison Society Conference that was held in November 4-7, 2010 in Paris, France. Moreover, Dr. Sharma was invited to present at the International Journal of Arts & Sciences (IJAS) conference held at the American University of Rome in 2013 and 2014. She has received various excellence awards. Also, she was nominated as the Top Ten Best Online Professors in the USA in May 2012 and was the 2012 recipient of Teaching Excellence Award by Lake Erie College. She is working on her forthcoming book named Quest for Self.


(Fall/Spring) USSO243 – Making Facts Dance


(Fall) USSO288P – The Impact of Race, Class and Education: A Dialogue on Current Issues

 Benjamin Sperry is an educator, historian and writer with a particular interest in race, civil rights, the American South (particularly Mississippi), incarceration, slavery and Africa.  He has a background as a political campaign organizer, magazine and newspaper journalist, classroom teacher (in social studies and creative writing) in the Cleveland public schools, college history professor, teacher in a prison setting, and freelance writer.  He currently spends part of each year teaching history in West Africa at the University of Ghana, and in the fall he teaches a SAGES course that also involves teaching a group of students at Lorain Correctional Institution, a state prison.  He holds a bachelor’s degree from Connecticut College, a master’s from Wesleyan University, and a Ph.D. in history from CWRU.