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Rachel Greenwald Smith, Ph.D.

Associate Professor


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

Research Interests

Twentieth and twenty-first century American literature and culture, politics and aesthetics, formalism, culture and capitalism, ecocriticism, manifestos, democracy and authoritarianism, theories of emotion and embodiment, the avant-garde.

Publications and Media Placements


On Compromise: Essays on Art and Democracy, forthcoming from 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 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.

“Friends and Enemies: On Slogan Tees,” The Los Angeles Review of Books, 16 July 2018.

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

“Tiny Books of the Resistance,”
The Los Angeles Review of Books, 6 January 2018.

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

"Six Propositions on Compromise Aesthetics," The Account, Fall 2014. Reprinted in Postmodern/Postwar—and After. Ed. Jason Gladstone, Andrew Hoberek, and Daniel Worden. University of Iowa Press, 2016.

"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).

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


Invited Lectures and Symposia

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

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

“Altered by Force: Affect, Literary Form, and Authority,” workshop presentation, 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 address for 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,” works in progress presentation, C21 Faculty Seminar, Washington University, October 2017.

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

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

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

"Compromise Aesthetics," 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," 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," keynote address for The Annual Humanities Symposium, Point Park University, Pittsburgh, PA, April 2010.

Selected Conference Presentations

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

“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.

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

“Neoliberalism and Literature," The Association for the Study of Arts of the Present, Greenville, SC, September 2015.

“Experimentalism After Theory,” The American Comparative Literature Association, Seattle, WA, March 2015.

"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.

"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.

"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.

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