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Villanova Philosophy Announces Job Placements, Dissertation Defenses

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With job announcements, dissertation defenses and a regional research communication competition (global pandemic notwithstanding), it has been an eventful Fall 2020 for Villanova University's doctoral program in Philosophy in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Placement News

Four Villanova Philosophy alumni and current students accepted positions this fall.

  • Ryan Feigenbaum ’17 PhD is now the executive director for the Philosophy of Science Association (PSA) and program director for the University of Cincinnati's Center for Public Engagement with Science.
  • Amanda Holmes ’20 PhD signed a five-year renewable contract from the Philosophy Department at the University of Applied Arts, Vienna.
  • Current student Luis Salazar has accepted a full-time position as a test developer with the Law School Admission Council.
  • Mark Westmoreland ’20 PhD accepted the position of full-time lecturer in Philosophy at Ocean County College in Toms River, N.J.

Holmes and Westmoreland defended their dissertations in December; Salazar plans to complete his degree requirements while working.

"As a department, we are tremendously proud of our PhD students' achievements as scholars, teachers and all-around creative thinkers,” said Philosophy Doctoral Program Director Julie Klein, PhD. “Our graduate students' interests are wide-ranging. They work on everything from the history of philosophy to contemporary politics, philosophy and film to philosophy and religion, the most traditional kinds of projects to cutting edge intersections with neuroscience, bioethics, law and the arts. We know they will bring their skills and energy to working in the academy and beyond."

Prior to joining PSA, Dr. Feigenbaum served as society coordinator with the History of Science Society for the last three years. “I'm indebted to the pluralism of Villanova's program, which has allowed me to be at home in such diverse regions of philosophy and history,” he said. “I look forward to possible collaborations between Villanova and my organization in the future.”

Dr. Holmes credits her new position to the strong background she received in the history of philosophy from Villanova and the department’s international reputation as one of the best places to study continental philosophy. “I am grateful to have been a part of the Villanova Philosophy Department and I am looking forward to this next phase of my career, for which I know I have been well prepared,” she said. “The support and encouragement from the faculty, especially Julie Klein, Gabriel Rockhill and Jim Wetzel, and the dedication of my advisor Walter Brogan were essential to my success.”

Salazar will be joining the team that designs the LSAT and will also be working on the Spanish language version of the exam. “I would like to extend my gratitude to [Villanova faculty] Dr. Julie Klein, Dr. Sally Scholz and Dr. Mark Doorley for their support and encouragement in pursuing this position,” he said.

Dr. Westmoreland began his new position this fall at Ocean County College, where he divides his time between teaching and administrative duties. He oversees a cohort of Honors students, serves on the college’s Global Education Committee, and recently participated as a speaker in the Banned Books Program.

“The Villanova Philosophy Department provided an encouraging atmosphere in which I could develop as both a teacher and a scholar,” Dr. Westmoreland said. “I am grateful to Julie Klein for her understanding and care. I also appreciate the support offered to me by [Villanova faculty] Joe Betz and John Carvalho, two of the readers on my dissertation committee. Joe’s passion for justice is inspirational. John never ceases to amaze me with his philosophical acumen and creativity. George Yancy of Emory University served as the dissertation committee co-director and, for many years, has blessed me with his humility, humor and generosity. He has been a mentor, helping me navigate the world of networking and publishing. Sally Scholz, my dissertation committee director and department chair, more than anyone else in my graduate career, has guided me through some of the biggest decisions I have had to make regarding the profession. Sally has been gracious with her time, offered me honest feedback, and always given me the impression that she sees success in my story even when I am doubtful.”


Dissertation Defenses

This December, four Villanova Philosophy doctoral students successfully defended their dissertations. The defenses were conducted over Zoom and drew an average audience of 50 international attendees. 

  • Amanda Holmes — "The Logos of Eros: Logics of Desire in Lacan’s Return to Freud"
  • David Mesing — “Elements for a Theory of Strategy: History, Politics, and the Black Panther Party”
  • Iaan Reynolds — “Ideology, Critique, and Political Education”
  • Mark Westmoreland — “On the Beat: Profiling in the Racial Polity”


Three-minute Thesis Competition

On December 9, Villanova Philosophy doctoral student Katherine Kurtz took second place at the Northeastern Association of Graduate Schools virtual regional Three-minute Thesis (3MT) competition. Kurtz advances to the national 3MT competition in February. She presented “Deviant Bodies: Toward an Aesthetics of Feminine Monstrosity,” which is based on her dissertation work.

3MT is an international competition for master’s and doctoral students to develop and showcase their research communication skills. To be successful, competitors must effectively explain their research in three minutes, in a language appropriate to a non-specialist audience.

Philosophy doctoral student Katherine Kurtz presented her work, Deviant Bodies: Toward an Aesthetics of Feminine Monstrosity

About Villanova University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences: Since its founding in 1842, Villanova University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences has cultivated knowledge, understanding and intellectual courage for a purposeful life in a challenged and changing world. With 39 majors across the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences, it is the oldest and largest of Villanova’s colleges, serving more than 4,500 undergraduate and graduate students each year. The College is committed to a teacher-scholar model, offering outstanding undergraduate and graduate research opportunities and a rigorous core curriculum that prepares students to become critical thinkers, strong communicators and ethical leaders with a truly global perspective.