Peter Rabinowitz

Sidney Wertimer Professor and Chair, Department of Comparative Literature, Hamilton College
Faculty Affiliates

When I'm forced into academic self-definition, I usually describe myself as a narrative theorist with a strong interest in music. In fact, though, beyond my partiality for the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries, I prefer to think of myself as a committed non-specialist. Although you might not guess it from my infatuation with Proust and Wagner, I actually have a short attention span. I've therefore rarely written on the same author or composer twice, and even a few exceptions (Raymond Chandler, Shostakovich, Dostoevsky) hardly fall into any logical pattern. My interests range broadly, from Proust to hard-boiled fiction, from ragtime to opera, from Chekhov to Mrs. E.D.E.N. Southworth, from the nature of authorial intention to (my current project) middle-school curriculum. I am author of Before Reading: Narrative Conventions and the Politics of Interpretation (1987); co-author (with Michael Smith) of Authorizing Readers: Resistance and Respect in the Teaching of Literature (1998); co-author (with James Phelan, David Herman, Brian Richardson, and Robyn Warhol) of Narrative Theory: Core Concepts and Critical Debates (2012); and co-editor (with Phelan) of Understanding Narrative (1994) and A Companion to Narrative Theory (2005). My academic essays have appeared in a wide variety of books and journals, including Narrative, PMLA, Critical Inquiry, Black Music Research Journal, Modern Philology, and 19th-Century Music. I'm co-editor (with Phelan and Warhol) of the Ohio State University Press Series on Theory and Interpretation of Narrative. As a music critic, I've written extensively in non-academic venues as well: I'm currently a contributing editor of Fanfare and a regular contributor to International Record Review.

Areas of Expertise
  • Rhetorical Narrative Theory
  • Music and Literature (including opera)
  • PhD, University of Chicago

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