Risk, Anxiety, and Generosity

Defining the Culture of Money from Shakespeare to Today

What does a venture capitalist have in common with a Venetian man brought to life by Shakespeare more than 400 years ago? Our panel features experts in both economics and the Bard drawing parallels between the characters of The Merchant of Venice and the behavior of modern consumers and investors. Participants: Steve Mentz (moderator), Erik Blachford, Tara Bradway, Judith Chevalier, and Holly Dugan.

Erik Blachford

Erik Blachford was the President and CEO of IAC Travel, managing all of IAC’s travel assets including Expedia, Hotels.com, and Hotwire. Erik joined IAC with its acquisition of Expedia, a former TCV portfolio company, where he served as President and CEO. In 1995 Erik helped establish Expedia within Microsoft, where he led the creation of the brand as SVP of marketing, later served as the President of Expedia North America, and ultimately was named President and CEO in 2003.

Erik has also served as Executive Chairman of Couchsurfing, a hospitality exchange and social networking website, as CEO of Butterfield & Robinson, a world leader in top quality active travel, and as CEO of TerraPass, a leading retailer of carbon offsets, consumer energy efficiency products, and green gifts. Erik serves on the boards of several TCV portfolio companies,  including SiteMinder, Varsity Tutors, and Zillow. He is also a board member of GlassDoor, Peloton, Choose Energy, and Liftopia.

Tara Bradway

Tara Bradway has served as the Artistic Director of the Adirondack Shakespeare Company since its inception in 2009. In addition to her producing work, she has to date performed in more than 40 productions of Shakespeare's plays. Some of her favorite roles include Portia in The Merchant of Venice, Cassius in Julius Caesar, and the title roles in Richard II and Hamlet. Last year, Tara also earned her Ph.D. in English from St. John's University. Her dissertation, The Actor as Critic: With Some Remarks Upon the Importance of the Body in Contemporary Shakespearean Production, argues for the actor's experience as a legitimate critical mode of interpretation. 

Judith A. Chevalier

Professor Chevalier's research is in the areas of both finance and industrial organization. Some of her recent research examines the interaction between customer reviews and firm strategy, consumer foresight in markets for durable goods, the impact of state regulations in the market for funeral products and services, and the taste for leisure as a determinant of occupational choice. She has written a series of papers on the economics of electronic commerce, the interaction between firm capital structure and product market competition, price seasonality and cyclicality, and tests of models of agency relationships and career concerns, and firm diversification. She is a former co-editor of the American Economic Review and of the Rand Journal of Economics.

Holly Dugan

Holly Dugan received her B.A. in English and Women's Studies from Douglass College, Rutgers University and her M.A. and Ph.D. in English and Women's Studies at the University of Michigan. She joined GWU's faculty in 2005. She is a passionate advocate for the value of arts and humanities in undergraduate education and she encourages all of her students to think of themselves as writers (at least for the duration of her courses). Her introductory English course, "Literature and the Financial Imagination," is a popular one, drawing first-year students from across the university. Its interdisciplinary approach has been recognized for its innovation; she is now working with colleagues to develop a minor in English for students majoring in business.Prof. Dugan received a university-wide Bender Teaching Award in 2011. In 2015 and 2016, she directed the Dean's Scholars in Shakespeare Program, which included study-abroad trips for students to London and Stratford-upon-Avon. Her research focuses on Renaissance literature, especially Shakespeare. She is a member of the George Washington University's Academy of Distinguished Teachers.

Steve Mentz

Steve Mentz teaches Shakespeare, literary theory, and maritime literature and culture with a focus on the “environmental humanities.” Responding in his research and teaching to ecological crisis has brought his work beyond Shakespeare to embrace oceanic culture, environmental philosophy, and artistic performances. He believes that all arts are performing arts, and his Shakespeare classes see at least one live performance each semester.

Dr. Mentz is author of three books, Shipwreck Modernity: Ecologies of Globalization 1550 – 1719 (2015), At the Bottom of Shakespeare’s Ocean (2009), Romance for Sale in Early Modern England: The Rise of Prose Fiction (2006), and three edited collections, Oceanic New York (2015), The Age of Thomas Nashe (2014) and Rogues and Early Modern English Culture (2004). He has published numerous articles on Shakespeare, ecological criticism, maritime culture, the history of the book, and related topics.  A sample of his interests, published works, and ongoing projects can be found on his blog, The Bookfish (www.stevementz.com).

He has received prize fellowships and grants from such bodies as the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Folger Shakespeare Library, the John Carter Brown Library, and the National Maritime Museum in London.

Before arriving at St. John’s in 2003, Dr. Mentz taught for three years in the English Department at Iona College in New Rochelle, NY.  His undergraduate degree is from Princeton University, where his senior thesis won the Francis LeMoyne Page Prize in Creative Writing. His PhD from Yale University.

Dr. Mentz has directed the Graduate Programs in English at St. John’s since 2011.

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