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Todd Barnes

Ramapo Success Story

“Ramapo College is a very special place for faculty to work, and I feel lucky every time I walk on campus. I’m proud that Ramapo is both public and a liberal arts school, which means that it embraces the values of the humanities and liberal arts—areas and modes of study historically reserved for students at elite, private institutions. Ramapo is also unique, when compared to other colleges, because all our professors work hard to combine a commitment to rigorous scholarship with an equal dedication to teaching and mentoring students. My amazing colleagues all have active research agendas, yet they also prioritize and excel at mentoring and engaging with their students. In my experience at other campuses, I’ve never seen this accomplished so well.

The students at Ramapo make it easy for faculty to be so dedicated. In my courses, students have always been curious, open-minded, hard-working, and kind. They are generous with each other, and they have impressed me with their commitment to service, community, and social justice. I have always found it easy to quickly develop an effective rapport with Ramapo students. For the most part, I think the good rapport I’ve had with my classes comes as a result of mutual trust. I trust that they’re prepared and willing to work hard. They trust that I will be organized; they trust that I am on their side; they trust that I have a plan and a thoughtfully designed syllabus; and they trust that, beyond their grades, I care about how their learning will affect their lives. I want my students to know that I am here to help them succeed, not to judge them or to assess them in a condescending or antagonistic way. Because of this, when I am critical, demanding, or when I challenge their assumptions, they know I do this because I care and believe they’re capable. I do, in fact, try to be as kind as possible. I suppose I imagine that the kinder I am, the more they will trust me when I push them to explore ideas they find difficult, counterintuitive, alien, or laborious.

I want my students know I’m available to them beyond the classroom, beyond the academic calendar, and beyond their time at Ramapo. While I teach first-year students every year, I also regularly teach graduating seniors, and I’ve been very involved in ushering these students into their post-graduation lives. I regularly work with students as they apply to graduate programs. My students have been accepted into graduate programs at Carnegie Mellon, Rutgers, Boston University, Widner University, University of North Carolina, Columbia University, New York University, and the CUNY Graduate Center. I have also worked with students pursuing writing and editing careers. My students have published in academic journals as well as with Salon, The Guardian, The Hairpin, Truth-Out, Buzzfeed, Esquire, Paste, Hazlett, Bustle, Femsplain, The New Republic, The Toast, and other publications. Many now have careers teaching K-12 in New Jersey and New York. Others have secured employment with local newspapers, archives, and publishing houses—two students now work at the publishing house John Wiley and Sons. Three of my students returned with master’s degrees to teach in Ramapo’s Critical Reading and Writing program. Outside of the traditional classroom, I have supervised dozens of Independent Study courses and internships. These one-on-one interactions, while time-consuming, are some of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had on campus. I have enjoyed working with students doing faculty-student research. More than a dozen of my students have presented at COPLAC (and published in their journal Metamorphosis), Scholar’s Day, and other national conferences (e.g. the Sigma Tau Delta English Honors Society conference). The college has been very supportive when I’ve wanted to organize trips off-campus. I have organized nearly a dozen performance events on and off campus, often collaborating with colleagues across the campus to do so, through the College Honors Program, the First-Year Seminar program, and the Salameno British Studies Center.

At Ramapo, faculty integrate teaching and research. My research regularly works its way into my classes. When I teach my course on Shakespeare’s plays, my research on early modern economics—on Tudor debt restructuring, “reckoning manuals,” debasement, and the founding of the Bank of England—often helps me contextualize historical finance. Economics majors in this general education course tell me they appreciate the historical perspective on money offered by the plays. When I attended a research seminar on Shakespeare, geology, and ecology, my research focused on the relationship between theater and new forms of cartography emerging in the early 17th century. This research has been particularly useful when I teach The Tempest, or when I discuss with students how early moderns were grappling with how to conceptualize nature, weather, geography, oceanic exploration, and the ecology of the pastoral. Teaching my Shakespeare course within Ramapo’s general education program has allowed me to combine my background in literature with interdisciplinary interests far afield, all of which helps me to better connect with students in other majors and with colleagues across campus.”

– Todd Barnes is an Associate Professor of Literature and the Program Coordinator for Critical Reading and Writing. Todd first joined Ramapo in 2010. For more information, please visit Todd’s Faculty Profile.

School of Humanities and Global Studies

Recent Publications

“‘Strange Garments’: Borrowing Africa’s Robes,” in A Guide to the Season’s Plays, Shakespeare Theatre Company, Washington, D.C. This essay focuses on cultural appropriation and the history of performing Macbeth in central Africa. The essay, which will also appear in the program, has been paired with the April-May 2017 production of Macbeth, which will be set in central Africa and directed by Liesl Tommy, whose recent Broadway production of Eclipsed, starring Lupita Nyong’o, was nominated for six Tony awards; it was also the first Broadway production to have an all-female cast, director, and playwright.

Shakespeare in 2016,” Public Books, May 1, 2016. Public Books is an online multimedia site affiliated with the print journal Public Culture (Duke University Press). Public Books is an initiative of the Institute for Public Knowledge at New York University.

“Striking Our Debt to Moral Tragedy: Retributive Economics in Julius Caesar” in Julius Caesar: A Critical Reader. Ed. Andrew J. Hartley. Arden Early Modern Drama Guides, New York: Bloomsbury Publishing, October, 2016

The Tempest’s ‘Standing Water’: Echoes of Early Modern Cosmographies in Lost,” in Shakespearean Echoes. Eds. Kevin J. Wetmore Jr. and Adam Hansen (May 2015)

“Hamlet on the Potomac: Anti-Intellectualism in American Political Discourse Before and After ‘the Decider’,” in Hamlet Handbook: Subject Matter, Adaptations, Interpretations (Hamlet Handbuch: Stoffe, Aneignungen, Deutungen). Ed. Peter W. Marx (Stuttgart/Weimar: Verlag J.B. Metzler, March 2014)

Awards and Accomplishments

Invited by the Central Park Conservancy to speak on Shakespeare and gardens (and Central Park’s Shakespeare Garden) to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death.

Invited to moderate a post-show discussion with members of the Royal Shakespeare Company/Filter Theatre Company after their performance of Twelfth Night at New York University’s Skirball Center for the Performing Arts.

Speaker/presenter on the “Chivalry” Panel organized by the Women’s Center, the Psi Sigma Phi Multicultural Fraternity and the Beta Kappa Sigma Black and Latina Sorority won the Ramapo Center for Student Involvement’s “Best Educational Program of the Year” Award in 2011.


PhD in Rhetoric, University of California, Berkeley
MA in Rhetoric, University of California, Berkeley
BA in English, University of California, Berkeley

Classes Known For

Shakespeare’s Plays
Senior Seminar: The Performance of Everyday Life
Literary Theory
Shakespeare on Film
Methods of Literary Study
Critical Reading and Writing