Marina van Zuylen has been Professor of French and Comparative Literature at Bard College since 1997. She was educated in France before receiving a BA in Russian literature and a PhD in comparative literature at Harvard University. She is the author of Difficulty as an Aesthetic Principle, Monomania, and The Plenitude of Distraction. She has published in praise of some of the most beleaguered maladies of modernity—boredom, fatigue, idleness, mediocrity—and written about snobbery, dissociative disorders, and obsessive compulsive aesthetics. She has published extensively on the work of Jacques Rancière and has written about art and aesthetics for MoMA and other art-related venues. She has taught at Harvard, Columbia, Princeton, and the university of Paris VII. She is the national academic director of the Clemente Course in the Humanities (clemente.bard.edu), a free college course for underserved adults, and accepted on its behalf a National Humanities Medal from President Obama in 2014. Her latest book, Éloge des vertus minuscules, is about the unsung virtues of classical and modern mediocrity.