Dean for Academic Support, Associate Professor of American Literature & Jewish Studies
Professor Rubinstein's teaching and research interests range across American literature and culture, with a particular focus on ethnicity and immigration, as well as Jewish and Yiddish literatures.
She serves on the editorial board of Prooftexts: A Journal of Jewish Literary History and co-edited Arguing the Modern Jewish Canon: Essays on Literature and Culture in Honor of Ruth R. Wisse (Harvard U Press, 2008). Her work has appeared in American Quarterlyand Shofar: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Jewish Studies, and she is the author of Members of the Tribe: Native America in the Jewish Imagination (Wayne State University Press, 2010).
Rachel Rubinstein is currently the dean of academic support and advising.
This course investigates the imaginative, mythic, historical, and aesthetic meanings of "America," from its earliest incarnations through the mid-nineteenth century, and the ways in which the "national imaginary" has continually been challenged, shaped and pressured by the presence of radical and marginal groups and individuals. We will read both major and unfamiliar works of the colonial, revolutionary, early republic and antebellum years, and examine how these works embody, envision, revise, and respond to central concepts and tropes of national purpose and identity. Our conversations will address the spiritual and religious underpinnings of American nationhood; exploration, conquest, and nature; notions of individualism, progress, improvement, and success; race, ethnicity, class, and gender; alternative nationalisms and communities. This course is ideal for students seeking to ground and fortify their study of nineteenth and twentieth century American literature, history and culture.
What happens when an identity that was assumed to be singular and inherited becomes a matter of choice and self-fashioning? Jewish experiences, identities, and cultures changed dramatically after the Second World War. Today's "new Jews" can be secular or spiritual, rooted or transnational, radical or reactionary, Zionist or anti-Zionist, fans of Sacha Baron Cohen, Balkan Beat Box, or the transgender punk-klezmer group Schmekel. Jews globally are experimenting with new ways of expressing, performing, and questioning Jewishness. This course draws upon a range of well-known and less-known writers and artists as well as popular culture, film, television, history, and sociology in exploring the new Jewish identities that emerge in global postmodernity. We will explore Jewishness in relation to such topics as: visual culture and performance, ethnic and cultural revival and reclamation, race and racialization, Israel and diaspora, queer and feminist politics, new spiritual practices, and a host of other surprising, "new-ish" Jewish phenomena.