Saint Louis University


Photo of Rachel Greenwald Smith


Associate Professor
Adorjan 223


Rachel Greenwald Smith specializes in twentieth and twenty-first century American literature with an emphasis on intersections between aesthetics and politics. She is the author of Affect and American Literature in the Age of Neoliberalism (Cambridge University Press, 2015), which examines the parallels between the emergence of neoliberalism as an economic, political, and cultural dominant during the turn of the twenty-first century and critical appraisals of the literature of the period that see the transmission of emotion as fundamental to aesthetic experience.

She currently at work on two scholarly collections: American Literature in Transition: 2000-2010, currently under contract at Cambridge University Press, and Neoliberalism and Literature, which she is co-editing with Mitchum Huehls. She was recently awarded an ACLS Charles A. Ryskamp Research Fellowship to support her second monograph, tentatively titled "Compromise Aesthetics: Literature After Experimentalism," which will examine the fate of radical form in a period that many critics see as post-experimental.


B.A., Sarah Lawrence College

M.A., Rutgers University
Ph.D. Rutgers University


Twentieth and twenty-first century American literature and culture, ecocriticism and environmental literature, aesthetics, theories of emotion, materialist approaches to literature, and critical theory.


Contemporary American Literature: Feeling and Form (Fall 2011)
Contemporary American Literature: What Now? What Next? (Summer 2014)
Twentieth Century American Literature: Nature and Its Discontents (Spring 2014)
Literary Theory (Spring 2013)

Senior Seminar: Why Literature? (Spring 2013)
Post-War Forms (Fall 2015)
Contemporary American Literature (Spring 2015, Spring 2012, Fall 2010)
Twentieth Century Literature (Spring 2010)
Manifestoes (Spring 2015)
Science Fiction (Fall 2015)
Literature and Nature (Spring 2010, Fall 2014)
Literature of the Natural World (Fall 2011, Fall 2010)
Nature, Ecology, and Literature (Fall 2014)
Introduction to the Novel (Spring 2012, Spring 2014)



Affect and American Literature in the Age of Neoliberalism, Cambridge University Press, forthcoming 2015.

Compromise Aesthetics: Literature After Experimentalism, in progress.

Edited Collections

American Literature in Transition: 2000-2010, under contract, Cambridge University Press.

Neoliberalism and Literature, ed. with Mitchum Huehls, in progress.

Selected Essays

"Six Propositions on Compromise Aesthetics," The Account, Fall 2014.

"Postmodernism and the Affective Turn," Twentieth-Century Literature 57:3 & 57:4 (Fall/Winter 2011): 423-446.

"Materialism, Ecology, Aesthetics," Mediations: Journal of the Marxist Literary Group 25:2 (Winter 2011): 61-78.

"Organic Shrapnel: Affect and Aesthetics in September 11 Fiction," American Literature 83:1 (March 2011): 153-174.

"Ecology Beyond Ecology: Life After the Accident in Octavia Butler's Xenogenesis Trilogy," Mfs: Modern Fiction Studies55:3 (Fall 2009): 545-565.

"Grief Time: The Crisis of Narrative in Don DeLillo's The Body Artist," Polygraph: An International Journal of Culture and Politics 18 (2006): 99-110.


Invited Lectures and Symposia

"Compromise Aesthetics," invited contribution to the Northeast Americanist Collective Colloquium, sponsored by Post45, Brown University, June 2014.

"Personal and Impersonal," invited lecture, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign Americanists Group, April 2014.

"Impersonal Feelings," invited contribution to the Post45 Symposium, Stanford University, November 2012.

"Neoliberalism and the Aesthetics of Self-Care," invited lecture, University of Missouri Department of English Research Symposium, Columbia, MO, September 2011.

"Anatomy Lessons: Affect, Aesthetics, and September 11 Fiction," invited keynote address for The Annual Humanities Symposium, Point Park University, Pittsburgh, PA, April 2010.

Selected Conference Presentations

"Neorealism and Compromise Aesthetics," The Modern Language Association, Vancouver, CA, January 2015.

"Neoliberalism and Literary Form," The American Comparative Literature Association, NYU, April 2014.

"Notes on Compromise Aesthetics," The Association for the Study of Arts of the Present, Detroit, MI, October 2013.

Moderator, "Ecology without Nature, Cities without Architecture, Art without Artists, or the Aesthetic Politics of Going "OOO," The Association for the Study of Arts of the Present, Detroit, October 2013.

Moderator, "Towards a Literary History of Neoliberalism," The Association for the Study of Arts of the Present, Detroit, October 2013.

"Disowning Feelings: Ecopoetics, Affect, Neoliberalism," The Conference on Ecopoetics, Berkeley, CA, February 2013.

"The Subject of Fiction: Affect and Narrative Form," The American Comparative Literature Association, Brown University, Providence, RI, April 2012.

"Neither Here Nor There: Distributed Affects, Narrative Form, and Neoliberalism," The International Conference on Narrative, Las Vegas, NV, March 2012.

"Pushing the Limits: Aesthetics in the Age of Neoliberalism," Association for the Study of Arts of the Present, Pittsburgh, PA, October 2011.

"Biologizing Postmodernism," Post45 Conference, Cleveland, OH, April 2011.

"Narrative Migration: Repetition, Affect, and Ecological Kinship in Richard Powers' The Echo Maker," The International Conference on Narrative, Washington University in Saint Louis, April 2011.

"Life After Humanism," Theories of Life in the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries, Rutgers University, February 2011.

"After the Land Ethic: Affect, Aesthetics, and Ecology," Contingent Communities, University of Minnesota, October 2010.

"From Abstraction to Affectus: Notes on Form," American Comparative Literature Association Conference, New Orleans, LA, April 2010. 

Return to Faculty List