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David Palumbo-Liu


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cultural studies
social theory
Asian Pacific American studies
literary theory

David Palumbo-Liu

Louise Hewlett Nixon Professor

Professor of Comparative Literature and, by courtesy, English


My fields of interest include social and cultural criticism, literary theory and criticism, and studies in race and ethnicity. My last book, The Deliverance of Others: Reading Literature in a Global Age (Duke, 2012) addressed the role of contemporary humanistic literature with regard to the instruments and discourses of globalization, seeking to discover modes of affiliation and transnational ethical thinking; I am also co-editor with Bruce Robbins and Nirvana Tanoukhi of Immanuel Wallerstein and the Problem of the World: System, Scale, Culture (Duke, 2011).  I am most interested in issues regarding social theory, community, race and ethnicity, human rights, globalization, and the specific role that literature and the humanities play in helping us address each of these areas.  My current book project ("Speaking Out of Place") is a consideration of the idea of political voice, and will be published by Haymarket Books.

"Scholarship and Activism" (CL316) is open to all Stanford students, and faculty and staff are welcome to drop in.  It is funded as a Focal Group in the DLCL.  The aim is to create a space and time for people to discuss any topic or subject the class decides to study.  The readings are selected by the participants.  Topics have included student activism of the 60s, especially May '68; power and ethics in faculty-student dynamics; Title IX; Celebrity, Scandal, and Advocacy via Social Media; the Neoliberal University; pedagogy and personal responsibility.  Our current effort is to create a network of activists and activist organizations on campus, and to organize and act on pressing issues such as graduate health care, sexual violence, racism and other forms of bigotry.  On October 13, 2020, we will bring filmmaker and activist Astra Taylor to campus to screen her award-winning film on democracy. After the screening she will join Angela Davis and me on stage to discuss the state of democracy in the present day.  I invite those who are interested in our work to contact me and to subscribe to the StandFor newsletter and the Scholarship & Activism Slack.

I am the founding editor of Occasion: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Humanities (found on Arcade); my writings have appeared in The Washington Post, The Nation,  Jacobin, Truthout, The Boston Review, The Guardian, Al Jazeera, Vox, Salon, AlterNet, The Hill, and other venues. I have served on the Executive Council of the Modern Language Association, and as President of the American Comparative Literature Association.  I am a former Chair of the Stanford Faculty Senate.

Please visit my web site for more information, essays, blogs, events:


1988: Ph.D. (Comparative Literature), University of California, Berkeley


COMPLIT 199 Senior Seminar
COMPLIT 316 Scholarship and Activism for Justice
COMPLIT 57 Human Rights and World Literature
DLCL 189B Honors Thesis Seminar
DLCL 189C Honors Thesis Seminar
DLCL 199 Honors Thesis Oral Presentation



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