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Rachel Greenwald Smith, Ph.D.



B.A., Sarah Lawrence College 
M.A., Rutgers University
Ph.D. Rutgers University

Research Interests

Contemporary literature and culture, politics and aesthetics, culture and capitalism, manifestos, democracy and authoritarianism, subcultures, theories of emotion and embodiment, the avant-garde.

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Publications and Media Placements


On Compromise: Art, Politics, and the Fate of an American Ideal, Graywolf Press, 2021.

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

Edited Collections

American Literature in Transition: 2000-2010, Cambridge University Press, 2017.

Neoliberalism and Contemporary Literary Culture, ed. with Mitchum Huehls, The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2017.

Selected Public Writing

State of Scarcity: On Compromise in Lockdown,” The Virginia Quarterly Review, Summer 2021.

In the Riot Grrrl Archive: Punk and the Limits of Individualism,” The Yale Review, July 2021.

Friends and Enemies: On Slogan Tees,” The Los Angeles Review of Books, July 2018.

Tiny Books of the Resistance,” The Los Angeles Review of Books, January 2018.

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

Selected Essays, Articles, and Book Chapters

“Fuck the Avant-Garde,” Post45: Peer Reviewed, “How to Be Now?” special issue ed. Sarah Chihaya, Joshua Kotin, and Kinohi Nishikawa, July 2019.

“1980 - Present: The New Authoritarianism,” Timelines in American Literature, ed. Christopher Hager and Cody Marrs, The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2019.

“The Contemporary Novel and Post-Democratic Form,” Novel: A Forum on Fiction 51:2 (2018).

“Manifesto,” American Literature in Transition: 1990-2000, ed. Stephen J. Burn, Cambridge University Press, 2017.

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

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

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

"Ecology Beyond Ecology: Life After the Accident in Octavia Butler's Xenogenesis Trilogy," Mfs: Modern Fiction Studies 55:3 (Fall 2009).


Invited Lectures and Symposia

“No Compromise: Affect, Affect, Polarization,” sponsored by the Affect Studies Group and the Humanities Center, Washington University, September 2019.

“What the Song Wants,” Post45, Oxford, UK, November 2018.

“Altered by Force: Affect, Literary Form, and Authority,”Altered States: Mind, Embodiment, and Aesthetics, an international conference at the Sorbonne and the Institut National d’Histoire de l’Art, Paris, June 2018.

“Demagogues and Manifestos: Illiberal Forms and Liberal Democracy,” keynote, A Changing Landscape: Shifting Borders and Slippery States, Graduate Student Conference in Literature, Creative Writing, and Rhetoric, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, March 2018.

“Fuck the Avant-Garde,” C21 Faculty Research Group, Washington University, October 2017. 

“Authority and Form After Experimentalism,” invited lecture, American Literature Colloquium, Harvard University, April 2016.

“Anatomy Lessons: Impersonal Feelings in 9/11 Fiction,” Department of English, Carleton College, October 2015.

“Compromise Aesthetics,” Northeast Americanist Collective Colloquium, Brown University, June 2014.

“Personal and Impersonal: Affect, Contemporary Literary Form, and Neoliberalism,” Americanist Group, English Department, University of Illinois – Urbana-Champaign, April 2014.

“Impersonal Feelings,” Post45, Stanford University, November 2012.

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

“Affect, Aesthetics, and September 11 Fiction,” keynote address for The Annual Humanities Symposium, Point Park University, Pittsburgh, PA, April 2010.

Selected Conference Presentations

Organizer, “Legacies of the Avant-Garde,” Roundtable, Modern Language Association, Seattle, WA, January 2020.

Respondent, “The Work of Feeling in the Age of Deindustrialization,” Modern Language Association, Seattle, WA, January 2020.

“The Missouri Compromise,” The Association for the Study of the Arts of the Present, College Park, MD, October 2019.

“Compromise Aesthetics,” Reading in the Age of Trump: The Politics and Possibility of Literary Criticism Now, Johannes Gutenberg-University, Mainz, Germany, May 2019.

“The Poem Itself,” Living With Others: Conscience, Coercion, and Freedom, St. Louis, MO, Washington University, January 2019.

Organizer and participant, Seminar on Literary Form and Political Efficacy, The Association for the Study of the Arts of the Present, New Orleans, LA, October 2018.

Organizer, “Compromise or Conflict: Literary Form Now” Roundtable, Modern Language Association, New York, NY, January 2018.

“Tiny Books of the Resistance,” Modern Language Association, New York, NY, January 2018.

“I Love Chris Kraus: A Response,” The Association for the Study of Arts of the Present, Oakland, CA, October 2017.

“Liberalism and the Author Problem,” The International Conference on Narrative, Lexington, KY, March 2017.

“Liberal Pluralism and the Future of the Manifesto,” The Modernist Studies Association, Pasadena, CA, November 2016.

Organizer, “Modern/Contemporary” Roundtable, The Modernist Studies Association, Pasadena, CA, November 2016.

“Authoritarianism, Formalism, Neoliberalism,” The Society for Novel Studies, Pittsburgh, PA, May 2016.

“Authoritarianism and Contemporary Literary Form,” The Contemporary: Culture in the Twenty-First Century, Princeton University, March 2016.