Rebecca Walkowitz-Provost-headshot

Rebecca L. Walkowitz

Claire Tow Professor of English, Provost and Dean of the Faculty




Milbank 110



Rebecca L. Walkowitz is a scholar of 20th- and 21st-century literature and Provost and Dean of the Faculty at Barnard College. Her research and teaching consider aspects of cosmopolitanism, multilateralism, and multilingualism and their relationships to questions of idiom, narrative structure, typography, and media in modernist and contemporary literature. She is interested in how writers and artists create novels, poems, essays, films, and digital compositions that are intended for global audiences and how the multilingual futures of those works — the way they begin in translation or appear simultaneously in multiple languages — can help us think about the global dimensions of local, regional, and national communities, including the university community. In her dual role as Provost/Dean of the Faculty and literary scholar, she is currently writing The New Multilingualism: Knowing and Not Knowing Languages in Literature, Culture, and the Classroom (forthcoming from Columbia University Press), which calls for new ways of counting, organizing, and valuing world languages both within and outside the university and traces the emergence of historically new examples of multilingual art and entertainment. A number of essays from the work in progress have appeared in scholarly journals or public outlets; “One,” an essay about multilingual films designed for global audiences, was solicited for a special PMLA issue on “Translation Studies.” Another, ​​“Gutting Language Departments Would Be a Disaster,” commissioned by The Chronicle of Higher Education, appeared in September 2023.

Provost Walkowitz’s previous books are Born Translated: The Contemporary Novel in an Age of World Literature (Columbia University Press, 2015) and Cosmopolitan Style: Modernism Beyond the Nation (Columbia University Press, 2006). She has also written several widely cited and field-defining articles, including “The New Modernist Studies” (2008), co-authored with Douglas Mao, which helped to describe and set a new agenda for the field of modernist studies and is one of the most-cited articles in the flagship journal PMLA. Her 2007 article on the Nobel laureate Kazuo Ishiguro and new paradigms in world literature, “Unimaginable Largeness: Kazuo Ishiguro, Translation, and the New World Literature,” is a top-cited article in the distinguished journal Novel.

As well as her writing, Walkowitz’s collaborative work as an editor of scholarly collections and book series has shaped her field. She co-founded and co-edits, with Matthew Hart and David James, the Literature Now series, which has published more than 25 books in contemporary literary studies, many of which have won major awards for scholarship and criticism. The collections of scholarly essays she has edited or co-edited include Bad Modernisms (2006, with Douglas Mao), Immigrant Fictions (2007), and A New Vocabulary for Global Modernism (2016, with Eric Hayot), the first volume of essays to appear in the Modernist Latitudes series at Columbia University Press.

Over the past two decades, Walkowitz has taught undergraduate and graduate courses on art and violence in the 20th century; the 20th-century British and global 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.

  • Ph.D., Harvard University, English and American Literature and Language, 2000 A.M.
  • Harvard University, English and American Literature and Language, 1997
  • M.Phil, University of Sussex, English Literature and Critical Theory, 1995
  • A.B., Harvard-Radcliffe Colleges, History and Literature, 1992

  • Senior Research Fellowship, Freie Universität Berlin 

  • Board of Trustees Award for Excellence in Research, Rutgers University 

  • Walter Jackson Bate Fellowship in World Literature at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard

  • Hurford Family Fellowship, National Humanities Center 

  • Class of 1955 Distinguished Teaching Award, University of Wisconsin, Madison

  • ACLS/Andrew W. Mellon Junior Faculty Fellowship

  • Jacob K. Javits Fellowship

  • Marshall Scholarship

  • Phi Beta Kappa

  • Member of the American Council of Learned Societies Consortium Steering Committee (2022-2024)
  • Member of the Executive Board of the Society for Novel Studies (2014-2018)
  • President of the Modernist Studies Association (2014-2015)
  • Chair of the MLA Divisions on Prose Fiction and 20th-Century English Literature (2013, 2007)
  • Publications Chair of the American Comparative Literature Association (2009-2012)
  • Co-editor of Contemporary Literature (2008-2012)

  • Inaugural Speaker for the Vanderbilt Center for Languages Satellite: “The Impact of World Languages Across the Disciplines,” 2024
  • Cagle Lecture: “One and Many Languages.” Department of English, Rice University, 2022  
  • “English as an Additional Language.” Keynote for “Mnemonic Migration: Transcultural Transmission, Translation and Circulation of Memory Across and Into Contemporary Europe,” University of Copenhagen, 2022
  • Plenary Lecture for “Worlds of Literature: Competing Notions of the Global,” Freie Universität Berlin, 2021 
  • “On Not Knowing.” Distinguished International Lecture for Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) Research Training Group on “Globalization and Contemporary/Literature,” Department of Comparative Literature, University of Bonn, 2019           
  • “Multilingualism and Post-Anglophone Fiction.” Oxford Comparative Criticism and Translation Research Centre, Oxford University, 2019   
  • George Steiner Lecture in Comparative Literature: “On Not Knowing.” University of London, Queen Mary, 2019    
  • James O. Freedman Lecture: “Multilingualism and Post-Anglophone Fiction.” Department of English, University of Iowa, 2018          
  • Keynote Speaker for Symposium on “Cross-Lingual Writing in an Age of World Literature.” Ritsumeikan University, Japan, 2018       
  •  “On Not Knowing.” Inaugural Lecture for the Centre for Modernist Cultures Annual Lecture Series, University of Birmingham, 2018