Boria Sax

Boria Sax, Ph.D., Advisor


Boria Sax has published 15 books, most of which are about human-animal relations in folklore, history, and other aspects of human culture, which have been translated into many languages, including Animals in the Third Reich (2012) and Imaginary Animals: The Monstrous, the Wondrous and the Human(2013).

Not terribly long after I had obtained my Ph.D. in German and intellectual history I came across an encyclopedia of animals that had been written in the early nineteenth century. There, without any self-consciousness, was a new world of romance and adventure filled with turkeys that spoke Arabic, beavers that build like architects, and dogs that solve murders. Within a few months, I devoted my studies to these texts.

Having been there close to the beginning, part of my role is now to preserve some of the sensuous immediacy that filled the study of animals in literature when that was still a novelty. That poetry is not simply a luxury in our intellectual pursuits…we face crises so unprecedented that traditional philosophies, from utilitarianism to deep ecology, can offer us precious little guidance.

On his book Stealing Fire: Memoir of a Boyhood in the Shadow of Atomic Espionage (2014):

I had not only to deal with personal ordeals, but, as I eventually came to realize, with a vast number of highly stereotyped images that now pass for history, yet serve mostly to obscure experience. There are so many layers of hero-worship, demonization, nostalgia, inflated rhetoric, theater, and hype that the underlying reality seemed almost completely obscured. My book is a quest to uncover the human reality behind historical events, concealed as this is by inflated rhetoric, arbitrary censorship, and all sorts of half-articulate fears.

Boria worked for Amnesty International in several capacities, including National Coordinator for Eastern Europe, where he advised local groups about political and cultural sensitivities, acted as a liaison with the international headquarters, and helped coordinate national campaigns. He also worked as a volunteer with other human rights groups such as Human Rights Watch, Human Rights Internet, and the International League. He has also won national awards for e-learning, and is a mentor in the Sloan-C Certificate program in online teaching, and teaches in the graduate literature program of Mercy College. He also teaches liberal arts courses at Sing Sing and Taconic prisons, where he has “perhaps the most engaged, interested college students in the world.”

added August 18, 2016