Rachel Galvin

Rachel Galvin
Director of Undergraduate Studies for Creative Writing, Assistant Professor, Associate Professor
Walker 511
PhD, Princeton University, 2010
Teaching at UChicago since 2015
Research Interests: Theories of Diaspora and Decolonization |AmericanLatino Literature| Twentieth-Century American Literature| Contemporary Literature | European Modernism| Literary History| Literature and the Arts| Poetry and Poetics| Translation


I am a scholar, poet, and translator specializing in twentieth- and twenty-first-century comparative poetics in English, Spanish, and French. My research and teaching interests include comparative modernisms, hemispheric studies, U.S. Latinx literature, wartime literature, multilingual poetics, the Oulipo, and translation theory and practice.

My book News of War: Civilian Poetry 1936-1945 is an account of how civilian poets confront the problem of writing about war. The six poets I discuss—W. H. Auden, Marianne Moore, Raymond Queneau, Gertrude Stein, Wallace Stevens, and César Vallejo—all wrote memorably about war, but still they felt they did not have authority to write about what they had not experienced firsthand. Consequently, these writers developed a wartime poetics engaging with both classical rhetoric and the daily news in texts that encourage readers to take critical distance from war culture. News of Warfocuses on civilian literatures of the Spanish Civil War and World War II, with an epilogue on contemporary poetry published in the U.S. about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Throughout News of War, I read noncombatant poetry as war poetry, aiming to contribute to the growing critical tendency to include civilian writing in the canon of twentieth-century war literature. I have published a number of articles related to this project; and co-edited a volume of essays on W.H. Auden, with Bonnie Costello, titled Auden at Work (2015).

In my new book project on U.S. Latinx poetry and hemispheric poetics, I am exploring connections among poets and works throughout the Americas, tracing how dialogues across linguistic and regional boundaries have been crucial for the development of U.S. Latinx poetry. The Latinx poetry I examine ranges from early twentieth-century works through contemporary experimental poetries whose strategies involve performance, digital technologies, code-switching, and code-mixing (or Spanglish).

I maintain an active creative practice that involves publishing, performing, reviewing, and translating poetry, as well as collaborating on creative translation projects. My collections of poetry include Elevated Threat Level (2018), which was a finalist for the National Poetry Series and the Alice James Books’ Kinereth Genseler Award, Pulleys & Locomotion (2009), and a chapbook, Zoetrope (2006). My poems and translations appear in journals such as Bennington Review, Boston Review, Colorado Review, Fence, Gulf Coast, Kenyon Review, LARB, McSweeney’s, The Nation, The New Yorker, PN Review, Poetry, and Words without Borders, and are included in Best American Experimental Writing 2020 and The Penguin Book of Oulipo. My poems have been translated into Spanish, French, Romanian, Chinese, and Hebrew, read on WNYC and the BBC, and projected via video at the Bibliothèque Nationale de Paris and displayed in the 2018 São Paulo Biennial.

My translation of Raymond Queneau’s Hitting the Streets won the 2014 Scott Moncrieff Prize for French Translation and was named one of the year’s best poetry books by the Boston GlobeDecals: Complete Early Poetry of Oliverio Girondo, which I translated with Harris Feinsod, was a Finalist for the 2018 National Translation Award. My translation of Alejandro Albarrán Polanco’s Cowboy & Other Poems will be published in December 2019. I’m a founding member of the Outranspo, an international creative translation collective.

Before joining the faculty at University of Chicago, I was an NEH/Andrew W. Mellon Fellow at The Newberry Library and an Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at the Humanities Center of The Johns Hopkins University, where I was affiliated with the interdisciplinary “Concepts of Diaspora” research cluster.

I am an Associate Literature Editor for ASAP/Journal, the journal of the Association for the Study of the Arts of the Present.