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Rebecca L. Walkowitz
Distinguished Professor and Chair, Department of English
Affiliate Faculty, Comparative Literature Program


Rebecca L. Walkowitz is Distinguished Professor and Chair in the English Department and Affiliate Faculty in the Comparative Literature Program at Rutgers University. Read her Chair's Message. She writes and teaches courses about modernism, twentieth-century British fiction, the contemporary Anglophone novel, translation, world literature, and transnational approaches to literary history. Her current research focuses on the concept of the anglophone and the representation of world languages in contemporary writing. She served as President of the Modernist Studies Association in 2014-2015.

Professor Walkowitz was a faculty member at the Institute for World Literature in June 2016 and will return as a faculty member to lead a seminar on Close Reading and World Literature in July 2019.

Her work on modernism, contemporary fiction, and world literature has led to distinguished lectures and collaborations in Asia, Europe, Australia as well as North America, most recently the Wolfgang Iser Lecture at the University of Konstanz (2017), a plenary lecture at the 90th annual English Literature Society of Japan conference in Tokyo (2018), the George Steiner Lecture in Comparative Literature at Queen Mary, University of London (2019), and a keynote lecture at the 3rd annual Modernist Studies Association in Asia conference in Shanghai (2020).

In 2015, she published Born Translated: The Contemporary Novel in an Age of World Literature. You can read interviews about the book here and here.

Born Translated received Honorable Mention for the first annual Matei Calinescu Prize from the MLA and has been reviewed in the Times Literary Supplement, World Literature Today, and Public Books, as well as academic journals. Parts of the book have been translated or are forthcoming in Danish, Hungaria, and Polish, and a translation of the full book is forthcoming in Japanese in April 2020. In this study, Walkowitz considers how the idea of world literature, as a network of multilingual editions and audiences, has changed the aesthetic strategies and formal properties of contemporary writing. Born Translated recasts literary history as a series of convergences and divergences and builds a much-needed framework for reading translation’s effects on fictional works.

Her first book, Cosmopolitan Style: Modernism Beyond the Nation (2006), was awarded Honorable Mention for the Perkins Prize from the International Society for the Study of Narrative.

She is the editor or coeditor of eight books, including, with Eric Hayot, A New Vocabulary for Global Modernism, published in 2016. A New Vocabulary shows how the intellectual paradigms we've long associated with modernism are transformed, and how new paradigms emerge, when modernism's archive extends beyond the European center. The book also explores how our methodologies change when we approach modernism comparatively and when we draw out modernism's own engagement with ideas of the world. You can read a review of A New Vocabulary here. Bad Modernisms, which she edited with Douglas Mao in 2006, is widely cited as a crucial document and influential manifesto for "the new modernist studies."

Recent essays include “After Close and Distant: Modernist Studies and the New Turn to Scale" in Modernism/modernity Print+, "Reading in a World of Wonderlands" in The Los Angeles Review of Books, "The Persistence of Books" in World Literature Today, "Will the Man Booker International Prize Challenge English's Dominance as a World Language?" for the Columbia University Press blog, "Future Reading" in the ACLA Report on the Discipline, and "Translating the Untranslatable: An Interview with Barbara Cassin" in Public Books.

From 2008-2012, she was an editor of the journal Contemporary Literature. She has served on the advisory board of the American Comparative Literature Association; as Program Chair of the Modernist Studies Association; and as Chair of the MLA Divisions on Prose Fiction and Twentieth-Century English Literature. At Rutgers, Walkowitz directs a research group on Modernism & Globalization.

With Sarah Cole at Columbia, she is co-organizer of the NYNJ Modernism Seminar. Walkowitz is also editor, with Matthew Hart (Columbia University) and David James (Queen Mary, University of London), of Literature Now, a book series published by Columbia University Press. Literature Now is the first series to welcome studies of contemporary literature that are transnational and comparative as well as national and regional in approach.

Professor Walkowitz is the recipient of several major national and university fellowships, including a British Marshall Scholarship, a Javits Fellowship, an ACLS Fellowship, the Hurford Family Fellowship at the National Humanties Center, the Walter Jackson Bate Fellowship in World Literature at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard, and three teaching prizes from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Walkowitz received her AB in American history and literature from Harvard-Radcliffe in 1992, an MPhil in English literature and critical theory from the University of Sussex in 1995, and an MA and PhD in English and American literature from Harvard in 1997 and 2000. As an undergraduate at Harvard, she served as the 118th President of The Harvard Crimson, the nation's oldest continuously published daily college newspaper.

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