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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


[pictured with Catherine Malabou and Radha Radhakrishnan at Theory Conference at UC Irvine.]  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.

I have just started a one-unit course, "Scholarship and Activism" (CL316), which is open to all Stanford students, and faculty and staff are welcome to drop in.  The aim is to create a space and time for people to talk about these subjects as they are attached to 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.  I will offer this course every term there is sufficient interest.  I am especially concerned with how academic atomization, hyper-specialization, and "pre-professionalism" tend to drive a wedge between people and create an atmosphere of competition and anxiety.  Our class is meant to create a sense of collaboration and inquiry.

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 am also a Contributing Editor for the Los Angeles Review of Books. I am currently the 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 105 Race and Human Rights (CSRE 115)
COMPLIT 194 Independent Research
COMPLIT 399 Individual Work
COMPLIT 802 TGR Dissertation



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