Rebecca L. Walkowitz is Dean of Humanities in the School of Arts and Sciences, Distinguished Professor of English, and Affiliate Faculty in Comparative Literature.
Over the past two decades, she has taught undergraduate and graduate courses on art and violence in the twentieth century; the twentieth-century British and world anglophone novel; theories of world literature and translation; the post-1945 British novel from Lamming to Sebald; Joyce’s Ulysses and its legacies; contemporary fiction and multilingualism; and the history and future of reading. As an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she taught before joining Rutgers in 2007, she won three teaching prizes, including the university's highest award and awards for honors teaching and for graduate teaching and mentorship. In Spring 2023, she is co-teaching a graduate seminar with Professor Ryan Kernan called "A World to Gain: Translation and World Literature."
Professor Walkowitz was Chair of English at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and became Dean of Humanities on November 1, 2020. As Dean of Humanities, she has focused on mentoring and promotion across all ranks, from postdoctoral associates through early and mid-career faculty; creating new opporutities for interdisciplinary learning across departments, divisions, and schools through dynamic new courses, interdepartmental majors and minors, and new graduate certificates; advancing community-engaged research; and highlighing the role of language engagement and language learning across the disciplines.
From 2014-2017, she served as Director of Graduate Studies in English. With colleagues, students, alumni, and staff, she organized the RU English team, which ran the Rutgers Half Marathon to support a campaign for graduate fellowships in the Humanities, and for fun!
Professor Walkowitz writes about modernism, the contemporary anglophone novel, translation, world literature, and transnational approaches to literary history. She is the author of Born Translated: The Contemporary Novel in an Age of World Literature (2015) and Cosmopolitan Style: Modernism Beyond the Nation (2006), both published by Columbia University Press. 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, and in many academic journals. Parts of the book have been translated or are forthcoming in Danish, Polish, and Hungarian, and a translation of the full book appeared in Japanese in 2022. Cosmopolitan Style was awarded Honorable Mention for the 2008 Perkins Prize from the International Society for the Study of Narrative.
In her current book project, “Knowing and Not Knowing Languages: The New Multilingualism in Literature, Culture, and the Classroom,” she calls for new ways of counting, organizing, and valuing world languages inside and outside the university and traces the emergence of historically new examples of multilingual art and entertainment. An essay taken from the first chapter, "On Not Knowing," appeared in New Literary History in 2020. A second essay from that project, "Less Than One Language," appeared in SubStance in 2021, in a special issue on "The Postlingual Turn," which she co-edited with yasser elhariry. A third essay, "English as an Additional Language," will appear in the October 2022 issue of PMLA.
She is also editor or coeditor of eight books, including Bad Modernisms (2006, with Douglas Mao), Immigrant Fictions (2007), and The Turn to Ethics (2000, with Marjorie Garber and Beatrice Hanssen). In 2016, she and Eric Hayot published A New Vocabulary for Global Modernism, the first volume of essays to appear in the Modernist Latitudes series at Columbia University Press. A New Vocabulary presents essays by leading scholars working at the intersection of world literature and modernist studies. The essays show how the intellectual paradigms we have long associated with modernism are transformed when modernism’s archive extends beyond the European center. Read a review here.
She was President of the Modernist Studies Association in 2014-2015 and a faculty member at the Institute of World Literature at Harvard University in 2016 and 2019. She has delivered more than 80 distinguished lectures in the fields of modernism, contemporary fiction, and world literature in Asia, Europe, Australia, and North America. Recent lectures include the Wolfgang Iser Lecture at the University of Konstanz, a plenary lecture at the 90th annual meeting of the English Literature Society of Japan, the George Steiner Lecture in Comparative Literature at Queen Mary, University of London, a plenary lecture at the Worlds of Literature conference at the Freie Universität Berlin, and a keynote lecture at the Mnemonic Migration conference at the University of Copenhagen. In 2021, she was a Senior Research Fellow in the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) Cluster of Excellence, “Temporal Communities: Doing Literature in a Global Context" at the Freie Universität Berlin.
She has a substantial record of leadership service to the profession. She is coeditor and cofounder, with Matthew Hart and David James, of Literature Now, which has published more than 25 field-shaping, award-winning books in contemporary literary studies. She currently serves on the editorial board of the journal SubStance. She has served as President and Program Chair of the Modernist Studies Association (2014-2015; 2008-2011), as an editor of the journal Contemporary Literature (2008-2012), as Publications Chair of the American Comparative Literature Association (2009-2012), as a member of the Executive Board of the Society for Novel Studies (2014-2018), as Chair of the MLA Divisions on Prose Fiction and Twentieth-Century English Literature (2013 and 2007) and as Member and Chair (2020) of the MLA Delegate Assembly Elections Committee. At Rutgers, she has directed the Modernism & Globalization Research Group since 2007. She is also coorganizer and cofounder, with Sarah Cole of Columbia University, of the NYNJ Modernism Seminar.
Since 2000, Professor Walkowitz has directed 20 Ph.D. dissertations and served on 23 additional PhD dissertation committees. Placements for students she has directed include tenure-track and permanent faculty positions at the Borough of Manhattan Community College at CUNY, Catholic University, Duke University, Hampton University, Incheon National University (South Korea), Rutgers University, UC-Berkeley, the University of Surrey (U.K.), the University of Toronto, and Wellesley College.
Professor Walkowitz is the recipient of several major national and international fellowships, including a British Marshall Scholarship, a Javits Fellowship, an ACLS Fellowship, the Hurford Family Fellowship at the National Humanities Center, the Walter Jackson Bate Fellowship in World Literature at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard, and a Senior Research Fellowship at the Freie Universität Berlin. She received the 2020 Board of Trustees Award for Excellence in Research from Rutgers.
She received her AB magna cum laude 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.