doc. Erik S. Roraback, Ph.D., D.Phil. (Oxon.)

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Born in Seattle, USA, Erik Sherman Roraback teaches critical theory, cultural studies, theoretical psychoanalysis, and USA literature at Charles University, as well as transnational cinema at F.A.M.U. (The Academy of Performing Arts, Film and TV School). Since 2014, he has directed the program in USA Literature and Cultural Studies at Charles University. Erik S. Roraback also teaches Kafka, psychoanalysis and cultural studies, and central European cinema for the UPCES program at CERGE-EI. He was from 2015–19 a Visiting Scholar, and is now from 2019—present an Affiliate Associate Professor in the English Department, University of Washington-Seattle. In 2005, Erik Roraback was elected a Visiting Professor in the Université de Provence (Aix-Marseille I), France; he was also a 10–time Visiting Researcher from 2004–14 in the Universität Konstanz, Germany, and from 2012 is a seven- time Visiting Erasmus+ Teacher-Scholar at the University of Winchester, UK, where he also held a University Visiting Research Fellowship from 2014–23.

Erik Roraback has published three original books: The Dialectics of Late Capital and Power: James, Balzac and Critical Theory (Cambridge Scholars, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 2007; xviii + 312 pp.), The Philosophical Baroque: On Autopoietic Modernities (Brill, Leiden, 2017; xvi + 295 pp.), and The Power of the Impossible: On Community and the Creative Life (Iff, Winchester, 2018; x + 384 pp.). As for new work, Erik Roraback is currently preparing for publication: I) a monograph on forms of cinematic circulation and capital and their nexus with forms of aesthetic and economic movement and thought in transnational twentieth-century cinema; II) a treatise on conflicts of authority, and of the sensible, which addresses new forms of life, the cultural unconscious and melancholic subjectivity, utopian rhetoric, and modes of production in Shakespeare’s Richard II; III) a book manuscript on experience and commodity culture in transnational literature and in
critical theory.

In addition, Erik Roraback has published 45 book chapters in monographs, or research articles in journals or volumes in Europe (Czechia, France, Germany, UK) and in the USA (Bloomsbury Academic, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Continuum Publishing Company, De Gruyter Encyclopedia of the Bible and its Reception—a CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title 2020, Interdisciplinary Literary Studies: A Journal of Theory and Criticism, Pynchon Notes, The Routledge Companion to Literature and Class, Rowman & Littlefield, et cetera). He also made a chapter contribution on “Emancipating Forms Of Death With Polanyi And Leibniz” to Death And Anti-Death, Volume 14: Four Decades After Michael Polanyi, Three Centuries After G.W. Leibniz (Ann Arbor, Michigan, 2016). Erik Roraback has supervised six doctoral theses to the successful completion of the degree and currently directs four ongoing doctoral students, serves on the Doctoral Studies board for the study of English and American Literature in Czechia and also on the editorial board for the academic journal E-REA, Aix-en- Provence, France, and for the Moravian Journal of Literature and Film, Olomouc, Czechia.

Erik Roraback is also the author of some 34 guest or plenary lectures and 41 conference papers in 16 countries in Europe (Aix-en-Provence, Bratislava, Brno, Budapest, Cardiff, Constance, Cork, Dublin, Freiburg, Helsinki, London, Nicosia, Olomouc, Oxford, Paris, Prague, Szeged, Tours, Trieste, Vienna, and Winchester), in the Middle East (Tel Aviv), in Russia (Moscow and St. Petersburg), and in the USA (UC-Boulder, Colorado, Evergreen State College-Olympia, Washington, K-State-Manhattan, Kansas, and Newport, Rhode Island). Erik Roraback holds a D.Phil. (examiners Terry Eagleton, Oxford and Maud Ellmann, Cambridge) from the University of Oxford, UK where he first taught tutorials for Magdalen College and Mansfield College, Oxford. He earned a B.A. (cum laude) from Pomona College, Claremont, California, USA. In Autumn semester 1988 he participated in the Pomona/Oxford program directed by Charles Wenden, All Souls College, Oxford, where he studied under Robert Maslen (Christ Church College), Geoffrey Tyack (Stanford University Centre in Oxford), and the then Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity and the future Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams (Christ Church College), earning a perfect 4.0 grade point average. In 1993 he held a Rotary Foundation Graduate Ambassadorial Scholarship in the University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia. With a grant from the French government, he studied in Paris as a D.Phil. student on an Oxford/École Normale Supérieure exchange and attended the 1995 Seminar taught by Jacques Derrida at the E.H.E.S.S. on “Questions de responsabilité” / “Questions of Responsibility”.




Get to Know Your Professor

  1. How did you become interested in your subject and why did you want to teach it?
    • I loved reading literature and learning as a young person, and wanted to continue to read and to learn more in adult life; the idea of getting paid to do this as a teacher-scholar seemed ideal. In addition, I was lucky to be taught by some extraordinary and ennobling teacher-scholars of literature, of philosophy, of history, and so forth, as an undergraduate student, both at the University of Washington, and then also at Pomona College from where I graduated. This continued in my graduate studies, which I undertook in Paris at the École Normal Supérieure (ENS) and at the École des Hautes Études in Sciences Sociales (EHESS) as a Visiting Exchange Student, and in the University of Oxford, from where I earned my D.Phil. All of these were very formative and inspiring experiences for me.
  2. I'm thinking about pursuing a career in your field. What advice can you give me?
    • Read as much as you can, and learn at least one or two foreign languages. This is invaluable. Also, seek out travel and study overseas opportunities to expose yourself to other cultures and mindsets.
  3. If you were not an academic, what career would you want to pursue?
    • I'd like at least, in my dreams, to be a musical conductor, a professional tennis player, or a violinist.
  4. What is your favorite café/restaurant in Prague?
    • Café Louvre because it recalls an age, cultural modernism, which I teach and find enchanting, and because it is at the same time a contemporary and elegant place.
  5. What fictional character would you like to meet?
    • I'd wish to meet the characters, who collectively form a kind of transindividual, of Dante, Virgil, and Beatrice from Dante Alighieri's fourteenth-century epic poem, La Divina Commedia / The Divine Comedy.

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