Department of American and Canadian Studies


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Catherine Rottenberg

Professor in American & Canadian Studies, Faculty of Arts



Catherine Rottenberg joins the Department of American and Canadian Studies as Associate Professor following a two-year Marie Curie EU fellowship at Goldsmiths, University of London, where she completed a project examining the rise of neoliberal feminism.

Before coming to the UK, she spent ten years as a faculty member in the Department of Foreign Literatures and Linguistics and the Gender Studies at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel. She has also been a visiting scholar at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, a visiting professor at Columbia University, a fellow at the Frankel Institute for Advanced Judaic Studies, and a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, Berkeley.

Expertise Summary

Her areas of expertise include 20th-century American literature, with particular interest in comparative African-American and Jewish-American literary studies, multi-ethnic US literature, Harlem Renaissance studies, "passing" narratives, as well as feminist, critical race and urban theory.

She has additional expertise in postfeminism, neoliberal and popular feminism as well as contemporary theories of "care".

Teaching Summary

American Literature and Culture 1: 1830-1940

Feminist Thought in the US: 1970s-present

African-American History and Culture

Over the years, I have taught a wide variety of courses, including: Introduction to Literary Theory, 20th-Century African-American Literature, 20th-Century Multi-Ethnic Literature in the US, US Immigrant Fiction, Jewish-American Women Writers, Introduction to Feminist Theory, Introduction to Cultural Studies, Writing the Body, and Feminist Cultural Studies.

Research Summary

I have just completed a research project on the rise of neoliberal feminism in the US. Through an in-depth analysis of bestselling "how-to-succeed" books through popular television series to… read more

Recent Publications

  • 2019. Anzia Yezierska and the Changing Fortunes of Jewishness. In: Teaching Jewish American Literature: Modern Language Association’s Options for Teaching Series Modern Language Association. (In Press.)
  • 2018. The Rise of Neoliberal Feminism Oxford University Press.
  • 2018. Introduction. In: All I Could Never Be Persea Books. (In Press.)

Current Research

I have just completed a research project on the rise of neoliberal feminism in the US. Through an in-depth analysis of bestselling "how-to-succeed" books through popular television series to well-trafficked "mommy" blogs, this project demonstrates how the notion of a happy work-family balance has not only been incorporated into the US popular imagination as a progressive feminist ideal but also lies at the heart of a new variant of feminism. What we are ultimately witnessing is the emergence of what I have termed "neoliberal feminism," a feminism that abandons the struggle to undo the unjust gendered distribution of labor and that helps to ensure that all responsibility for reproduction and care work falls squarely on the shoulders of individual women.

In addition to the monograph, The Rise of Neoliberal Feminism (Oxford UP, 2018), this project resulted in a number of articles: "Happiness and the Liberal Imagination: How Superwoman Became Balanced" which won the Claire Goldberg Moses Award for the most theoretically innovative article in 2014 from the journal Feminist Studies, "Neoliberal Feminism and the Future of Human Capital" (Signs 2017), and "Women Who Work: The Limits of the Neoliberal Feminist Paradigm (Gender, Work and Organization 2018).

In addition to my individual research on the rise of neoliberal feminism, I also have co-edited a themed issue of new formations with Sara Farris on "Righting Feminism" (new formations, 2017). Our introduction to this issue has been translated into both French and Arabic.

Past Research

My earlier work emerged from a fascination with African-American and Jewish-American fiction as well as with poststructuralist, feminist and postcolonial theories. My research interests have therefore revolved around a number of axes: comparative US multi-ethnic literary studies, comparative African-American and Jewish American literary studies, critical race and urban studies and feminist theory. My first book Performing Americanness (UP New England, 2008) as well as the earlier articles I published all examine the literary representation of race, gender, and class. During a fellowship at the University of Michigan (2007-8), I became increasingly interested in the spatial theories of Henri Lefebvre and the Chicago School of urban sociology and this new theoretical direction led to my examination of how the urban neighborhoods of Harlem and the Lower East Side have been represented in modern African-American and Jewish-American fiction. This project resulted in a number of articles and an edited volume, Black Harlem and the Jewish Lower East Side: Narratives out of Time (SUNY 2013) that brings together prominent as well as young scholars in order to track the shifting way in which these two iconic New York spaces have been portrayed in African-American and Jewish-American literature over the course of the twentieth century.

Future Research

I am currently engaged in two new long-term research projects. One is a collaborative project with Dr. Shani Orgad and Dr. Sara De Benedictis that examines the Anglo-American media coverage of the #MeToo campaign. The second revolves around the global "care crisis." I am also part of a care collective research group that is exploring the conceptual aspects of the current care crisis, and we have a number of projects in the offing.

Department of American and Canadian Studies

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