Rivky Mondal

Rivky Mondal
Teaching Fellow
Cohort Year: 2016
Research Interests: late 19th and 20th century American and British literature | modern and contemporary novel | aesthetics | affect theory | feminist and queer studies | translation | cultural studies | critical theory and hermeneutics


Rivky Mondal received her B.A. in English and Hispanic & Portuguese Studies from the University of Pennsylvania. She won a departmental prize for her senior thesis on Jacques Lacan and Salvador Dalí and received honorable mention for an essay on the documentary styles of Samuel Beckett and filmmaker Ross McElwee. She received an M.A. in English from the Pennsylvania State University on a teaching fellowship. 

Her dissertation, Mean Difference: Poetics of the Microsocial in Modernity advances a new literary-theoretical approach for reading the oblique relations of institutional orders to mundane events of difference. Homing in on under-articulated tension and subtle friction, the project demonstrates how trademark characteristics of the modernist novel associated with solipsistic difficulty—multiple points of view, richly detailed mental states and bodily surfaces, descriptions of unspoken feeling and thinking—are fashioned precisely to capture the elusiveness of difference on the micro-level. From tact around race and class in Nella Larsen and Henry James to hesitancy to broach revealing micro-expressions in Sally Rooney and Raven Leilani, structural power comes in and out of focus in face-to-face encounter—the crucible of societal rupture—yet when examined in detail, softens under the suasions of being-with others. In tracing changing representations of micro-interactions in novels that span the twentieth- and twenty-first centuries, I show how the ambiguity of difference points to a deeper paradox of our modern times. Despite the sociopolitical revolution in neoliberal society whereby others’ ideologies, privileges, and backgrounds are radically available for analysis, the terms of intimate connection have never been more uncertain. 

Rivky is also a freelance copyeditor. She has performed editorial work for a range of academic publications, including On the Inconvenience of Other People, Reading Sedgwick, 1922: Literature, Culture, Politics, A Handbook of Modernism Studies, and Critical Inquiry.


  • “Too Literal Translation: Some Poems of Roger Fry.” Modernism, Theory and Responsible Reading: A Critical Conversation. Edited by Stephen Ross (Bloomsbury, 2021). 
  • “For Inscrutability.” Post45 Contemporaries. Cluster on “Interpretive Difficulty” edited by Johanna Winant and Dan Sinykin.
  • “Henry James and the Device of the Observer: A Study on Microexpressions.” Henry James Review 41, no. 1 (Winter 2020). Special issue: “Emotion, Feeling, Sentiment in James: ‘Sorrow comes in great waves.’”
  • “‘Killers and killed all’: Luis Felipe Fabre’s Sor Juana y otros monstruos.” 3:AM Magazine.
  • “Malfunctioning Machines: Replaying The Plays of Samuel Beckett by Katherine Weiss.” Journal of Modern Literature 38, no. 2 (Winter 2015). Special Theme: “Irish Modernism.”