Department of English »
» home » contact
Rebecca L. Walkowitz

Rebecca L. Walkowitz is Professor and Chair in the English Department at Rutgers University. She is also an affiliate faculty member in the Comparative Literature Program. She is Past President of the Modernist Studies Association, served as a faculty member at the Institute for World Literature in 2016, and will be the Hurst Family Visiting Professor at Washington University in St. Louis in 2017. Upcoming keynote lectures include a conference on “Comparative World Literature” at Kenyon College in April 2017; a symposium on comparative European literary histories at the University of St. Andrews, Scotland, in June 2017; the Wolfgang Iser Lecture at the University of Konstanz in July 2017; and a conference on “The Idea of Prose Style” in Sydney, Australia in December 2017.

Professor Walkowitz's current research focuses on the concept of the anglophone and the representation of world languages in contemporary writing. In 2015, she published Born Translated: The Contemporary Novel in an Age of World Literature, which 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 Born Translated have been translated into Danish and Hungarian. 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.

Walkowitz's first book, Cosmopolitan Style: Modernism Beyond the Nation, was one of the first monographs to argue that early twentieth-century modernist writers such as Joseph Conrad, Virginia Woolf, and James Joyce need to be understood alongside late-twentieth-century transnational writers such as Kazuo Ishiguro, Salman Rushdie, and W.G. Sebald. Cosmopolitan Style showed how new theories of cosmopolitanism, whose champions in philosophy, literary criticism, and anthropology had resisted associations with aesthetic practices, are in fact crucially shaped by the history of literary modernism. In turn, she argued, transnational British literature published at the end of the century must be understood in the context of modernism – and not as a separate, antagonistic phenomenon. Cosmopolitan Style was awarded Honorable Mention for the 2008 Perkins Prize for best book in narrative studies.

Concurrently with Cosmopolitan Style, Walkowitz published Bad Modernisms (2006), a 370-page anthology on “the new modernist studies” which she edited with Douglas Mao. Two years later, Mao and Walkowitz published “The New Modernist Studies,” a survey of current transformations and future directions solicited by the editor of PMLA . In this widely-cited essay, Mao and Walkowitz argued that emergent scholarship in the field has moved in two principal directions: towards the transnational history of the book, in which modernist scholars – for so long focused only on the analysis of singular texts – are examining the global publication, translation, and circulation of modernist works; and towards the history of institutions, in which scholars – for so long focused on paradigms of individualism – are analyzing how modernist works were embedded in mass media and the state.

Walkowitz is the editor or coeditor of seven additional books, including The Turn to Ethics (with Marjorie Garber and Beatrice Hanssen, 2000) and Immigrant Fictions: Contemporary Literature in an Age of Globalization (2007). She is recently edited, with Eric Hayot, a volume of experimental essays by leading scholars in the fields of world literature and modernist studies. Published in 2016, A New Vocabulary for Global Modernism 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. It 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.

With Matthew Hart (Columbia University) and David James (Queen Mary, University of London), Walkowitz is editor of Literature Now, a book series published by Columbia University Press. Literature Now gathers ambitious books that focus on the literature of “now” while considering what counts, now, as “literature.” It is the first book series to welcome studies of contemporary literature that are transnational and comparative as well as national and regional in approach. At Rutgers, she directs a research group on Modernism & Globalization, which has sponsored a variety of events that have drawn scholars and students from around the area. With Sarah Cole at Columbia, she is co-organizer of the NYNJ Modernism Seminar.

From 2008-2012, she was an editor of the journal Contemporary Literature. She has served on the 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.

Courses at Rutgers include a large lecture course on violence and creativity ; small undergraduate courses on the history and theory of critical and uncritical reading , on the literary and critical history of sophistication, and on James Joyce and the literature of explicitness ; and graduate seminars on modernism and transnationalism, on world literature; on the British novel after 1945; and on the world Anglophone novel.

Before coming to Rutgers, Professor Walkowitz taught at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she founded the Contemporary Literature Colloquium , a research group of faculty members and graduate students who work in the areas of literature and culture after 1945. In September 2006, she received the Phillip R. Certain Distinguished Faculty Award, which honors the most distinguished faculty member to receive tenure in the College of Letters & Science in the preceding year.

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

Read an interview.



Home | Biography | Teaching | Research Areas | Selected Publications | Brief CV | Contact

© Department of English | Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. All Rights Reserved.
All external sites will open in a new browser. Rutgers Department of English is not responsible for external content.