Around noon on Wednesday, the Assistant Dean of Yale’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences removed a fifth-year comparative literature graduate student named Margherita Viggiano (pictured) from her teaching duties in Professor Alexander Nemerov’s crazy-popular art history course. Apparently Viggiano wasn’t getting along with other teaching fellows, whom Viggiano told in an email on Monday that she “[has] been mobbed and discriminated against in spite of the paradoxical fact that [she] was the only critic to share the artists’ inner frame of reference: Catholicism.”
In response, Viggiano fired off several essay-length emails in which she calls Edward Barnaby, the Assistant Dean and English professor, a “corrupted hypocrite”; “the opposite of professionalism”; “an accomplice of academic dishonesty”; and accuses Barnaby of discriminating against her for being a Catholic woman. (Among many, many other things.)
Some time after sending her last email at 3:49 PM, Viggiano posted her exchange with Barnaby on one of her blogs. Around 9:30 PM, Viggiano mysteriously deleted it—but not before IvyGate saved the whole thing.
Called “A warning to future generations of students,” Viggiano’s exchange with Barnaby reveals the professional antagonism, bitter jealousy, and religious tension—real or imagined—between a devout Catholic and the rest of Yale University. Eat your heart out, William F. Buckley, Jr.
Full text of the emails, after the jump:
From: Barnaby, Edward
Sent: Tuesday, January 24, 2012 2:02 PM
To: Viggiano, Margherita
Subject: Teaching Fellow Appointment
Dean Pollard has asked that I continue trying to resolve your problem working with Bradley Bailey. In a large lecture course, it is critical that the teaching fellows cooperate with the person assigned to organize the sections, and it is always important to communicate professionally. If you wish to continue as a teaching fellow in Professor Nemerov’s course, please confirm with me by 5 p.m. today that you are
If issues arise that go beyond the day-to-day organization of the sections, and you are unable to resolve them yourself, please direct your concerns to me, not to Dean Pollard or to anyone else in the Graduate School Dean’s Office.
I hope to receive a positive response from you soon.
Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
From: Viggiano, Margherita
Sent: Tuesday, January 24, 2012 4:22 PM
To: Barnaby, Edward
Cc: Nemerov, Alexander
Subject: List of functions required pertaining to the position of head TF
You are invited to address me by my name, Ms. Viggiano.
I am “willing to cooperate with Mr. Bailey and communicate in a professional manner,” as I have always done in spite of his outrageous emails, as long as Bradley Bailey is also willing to “cooperate” and “communicate professionally.”
I formally complain about the fact that Bailey invited me to send my academic materials to his male partner. This is the opposite of professional practice and professional communication.
Bailey admitted that he is not knowledgeable on the Renaissance. In spite of this, he wanted me to email my research to one of his family members, let’s say, who he claims is a “specialist.”
How do you classify this sort of childish, ridiculous and outrageous behavior? This is highly offensive and a shame for Yale. People who behave in this way — without social intelligence — rarely find a job, let alone being a head tf.
I require your written acknowledgment of this serious matter, as well as written apologies from Bailey.
Such instances of childishness and blatant lack of professionalism must not happen anymore in his behavior toward me or the other TFs.
Furthermore, it is necessary to have a list of functions pertaining to Bailey, so that the professional boundaries of each participant may be clear.
The functions of a head TF are organizational and bureaucratic. A head TF has no academic responsibility over other section leaders: I am personally responsible for my pedagogy and academic materials.
I also require that Bailey “communicate in a professional manner” on the sensible topic of religion, which is essential in a class of 280.
Bailey stated that the Mother of God “is” a “symbol” and an “allegory.” That is not true. The Mother of God “is” the Mother of God, as YHWH “is” YHWH, and Allah “is” Allah.
Bailey also referred to the Mother of God in terms of the “boobs” of the Blessed Virgin. How do you classify that sort of speech, Barnaby? Once again, people can be dismissed for this sort of outrageous language.
I require written apologies and the guarantee that this sort of disrespectful language will not be used anymore in connection with Christianity or with any other religion.
Now it is 4:20 pm. I have replied in a much more professional and intellectually honest manner than you have addressed the student who had been bullied, abused and threatened.
I am not going to remain online today: if you wish to continue this conversation we will have to arrange a meeting in person.
Margherita Maleti Viggiano
School of Arts and Sciences
From: Barnaby, Edward
Sent: Wednesday, January 25, 2012 12:53 PM
To: Viggiano, Margherita
Subject: RE: List of functions required pertaining to the position of head TF
Dear Ms. Viggiano:
In my e-mail messages Monday and Tuesday, I requested that you confirm your willingness to cooperate with Mr. Bailey and communicate in a professional manner, but your e-mail below indicates that you have not understood the inappropriateness of your behavior. Mr. Bailey’s e-mail messages to you were not “outrageous,” and, if you continue to believe that they were, then you are not capable of the cooperation and communication required by your position as a teaching fellow. In fact, your e-mail includes the very same inappropriate invective that I raised with you in my e-mail Monday. There is no reason for Mr. Bailey to apologize to you, and it is unacceptable for you to condition your willingness to cooperate with him on an apology.
Since my last e-mail to you, I have learned that you are also having difficulty maintaining boundaries in your communications with other colleagues. Your letter to the other teaching fellows Monday included inappropriate personal references: “Sometimes I would like to convert to Judaism or Islam, so that people would feel terrorized at the thought of losing their job, if they even tried to mob or discriminate against me because of my religion as proscribed by the First Amendment. . . . Many times – by pseudo-professors and insipient administrators alike – I have been mobbed and discriminated against in spite of the paradoxical fact that I was the only critic to share the artists’ inner frame of reference: Catholicism.” It is unprofessional and unacceptable to introduce your personal feelings of grievance into your professional communications with colleagues about course materials.
Because you have shown no understanding of the inappropriateness of your behavior, you will not be able to continue in your role as a teaching fellow. However, the University will provide you with the standard stipend for a University Fellowship this term. Because you no longer have a role in the course, please do not attend any lectures, sections, or teaching fellow preparation sessions.
From: Viggiano, Margherita
Sent: Wednesday, January 25, 2012 3:49 PM
To: Barnaby, Edward
Subject: RE: Complaint Barnaby
Your email confirms our common understanding — and I am speaking here of Prof. Mazzotta and Prof. Viggiano — that you are a hypocrite and a corrupted individual. Try to develop some understanding of academics and legal obligations:
If you ask someone to agree to a contract, you must specify the terms of that contract. But you refused to provide a list of the functions of a head tf, not least because there is no such list. Howard El-Yasin pointed out that there is no written regulation describing the functions of a head tf. A head tf cannot interfere with the academics and the pedagogy of other tfs.
I have always behaved extremely professionally with Bailey as well as everyone else: in reply to your email, I said that I will always do so. It is my right to have the guarantee that my honesty will be reciprocated, but you refused to offer me that guarantee.
You claim that the random statements of Bailey were not inappropriate?
He said that he does not know the historical period in question, and invited me to send my academic material to his boyfriend who is a specialist. If you don’t see that this is not appropriate, you are either incompetent or corrupted. Which one is it?
You say that there is no need for Bailey to apologize?
He referred to the Mother of God as a “symbol” that is not really true. In class, he talked about the “boobs” of the Vigin Mary. What is your field, Barnaby, administration or academics? Do you not know that people can be dismissed for saying this sort of nonsense against other people’s faith?
Bailey also falsely alleged that I attended someone else’s section: who disciplined him for slandering others and creating a non-existent problem impeding the work of one of his colleagues?
By supporting Nemerov and his Phi Beta Kappa connection, you make yourself an accomplice of academic dishonesty. You have “difficulties maintaing the boundaries” between the duties of your work, which is to promote the wellbeing of students, and your personal profit.
Indeed, my behavior was not “inappropriate” as you falsely claim to protect yourself, but I was the only person, in this exchange, to behave both honestly and professionally.
You do not email students at 9:30 pm; you do not send students ultimatums at 2 pm that must be replied by 5 pm.
The truth is that Nemerov, who states on his CV his membership and allegiance with the Phi Beta Kappa of Haun Saussy, wanted to take away my job before tomorrow’s section. And you just carried out his orders.
How much do you get paid to do this sort of work on commission, Barnaby? You should know what my advisor told me about you.
You do not fool anyone with your pretence of professionalism: what are your academic qualifications to be a lecturer in the English department? What do you know about “visual culture” and cinema? You may have an MBA from NYU: is this professional, Barnaby?
Since we know that you are a corrupted hypocrite, you try to make other people look bad because they denounce your corruption. Because you are the opposite of professionalism, you try to make others look unprofessional. But people around here smarter than at NYU.
My communication with the other TF is perfectly professional and truthful: I state that you would never have the courage to discriminate against me if I were a Jewish or Islamic man. Denmark is under terrorist threat for a simple joke against the Prophet published on a magazine. But you think you can discriminate against me because I am a Catholic woman. And in fact you think that you can take away my job. Study Isaiah 46: God always accomplishes his aims, in this life and for eternity. If He wants people to be educators, writers, and to have political roles in this country, He will fulfill his Will anyway, regardless of what corrupted individuals like you may say, do or don’t do.
Shame on you, Barnaby: “you have shown no understanding” of your duties and responsibilities. Study the Bible: every evil deed is visited upon the head of the criminal who commits it.
Study the Bible very carefully: do you think that a masters in business & administration makes you wiser than two thousand years of truth and wisdom?
God comes like a thief in the night for all the corrupted hypocrites of this world. He says so both in the Old and in the New Testament: do you also think that the Word of God is “unprofessional and unacceptable”?
Why don’t you tell Him so when you appear before His Throne, and see how He reacts to that.
Who will save you from your “feeling of grievance” then?