School of Humanities and Sciences
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Associate Professor of English
BioVaughn Rasberry studies African American literature, global Cold War culture, the European Enlightenment and its critics, postcolonial theory, and philosophical theories of modernity. As a Fulbright scholar in 2008-09, he taught in the American Studies department at the Humboldt University Berlin and lectured on African American literature throughout Germany. His current book project, Race and the Totalitarian Century, questions the notion that desegregation prompted African American writers and activists to acquiesce in the normative claims of postwar liberalism. Challenging accounts that portray black cultural workers in various postures of reaction to larger forces--namely U.S. liberalism or Soviet communism--his project argues instead that many writers were involved in a complex national and global dialogue with totalitarianism, the defining geopolitical discourse of the twentieth century.
His article, "'Now Describing You': James Baldwin and Cold War Liberalism," appears in an edited volume titled James Baldwin: America and Beyond (University of Michigan Press, 2011). A review essay, "Black Cultural Politics at the End of History," appears in the winter 2012 issue of American Literary History. An article, "Invoking Totalitarianism: Liberal Democracy versus the Global Jihad in Boualem Sansal's The German Mujahid," appears in the spring 2014 special issue of Novel: a Forum on Fiction. For Black History Month, he published an op-ed essay, "The Shape of African American Geopolitics," in Al Jazeera English.
An Annenberg Faculty Fellow at Stanford (2012-14), he has also received fellowships from the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and the Humanities Center at the University of Pittsburgh.
Vaughn also teaches in collaboration with the Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity (CCSRE) and the programs in Modern Thought and Literature, African and African American Studies, and American Studies.
Senior Lecturer in English
BioJudith Richardson is a senior lecturer in English and program coordinator for American Studies. After receiving her PhD from Harvard University, Judith began teaching at Stanford in 2001, offering a range of courses on American literature, including classes on women writers, early American literature, autobiographies, and the literature of cities. The author of Possessions: The History and Uses of Haunting in the Hudson Valley (2003) she continues to write and lecture—at Stanford and beyond—on the history and literature of New York, and on issues of place and cultural memory more broadly. She is currently working on a book about nineteenth-century America’s “plant-mindedness,” its multivalent obsession with vegetable matters.
William Robertson Coe Professor of American Literature and Professor, by courtesy, of Comparative Literature and of Slavic Languages and Literatures
BioNancy Ruttenburg is the William Robertson Coe Professor of American Literature in the English Department at Stanford. She also holds courtesy appointments in the Department of Comparative Literature and the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures. She received the PhD in Comparative Literature from Stanford (1988) and taught at Harvard, Berkeley, and most recently at NYU, where she was chair of the Department of Comparative Literature from 2002-2008. Her research interests lie at the intersection of political, religious, and literary expression in colonial through antebellum America and nineteenth-century Russia, with a particular focus on the development of liberal and non-liberal forms of democratic subjectivity. Related interests include history of the novel, novel theory, and the global novel; philosophy of religion and ethics; and problems of comparative method, especially as they pertain to North American literature and history.
Prof. Ruttenburg is the author of Democratic Personality: Popular Voice and the Trial of American Authorship (Stanford UP, 1998) and Dostoevsky's Democracy (Princeton UP, 2008), and she has recently written on the work of J. M. Coetzee and on Melville’s “Bartleby.” Books in progress include a study of secularization in the postrevolutionary United States arising out of the naturalization of “conscience” as inalienable right, entitled Conscience, Rights, and 'The Delirium of Democracy'; and a comparative work entitled Dostoevsky And for which the Russian writer serves as a lens on the historical development of a set of intercalated themes in the literature of American modernity. These encompass self-making and self-loss (beginning with Frederick Douglass's serial autobiographies); sentimentalism and sadism (in abolitionist fiction); crime and masculinity (including Mailer's The Executioner's Song); and the intersection of race, religious fundamentalism, and radical politics (focusing on the works of James Baldwin and Marilynne Robinson). Her courses will draw from both these projects.
Prof. Ruttenburg is past president of the Charles Brockden Brown Society and has been the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a National Humanities Center Fellowship, a University of California President's Research Fellowship, as well as fellowships from the Social Science Research Council for Russian and East European Studies, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the American Council for Learned Societies.