Rita Barnard, who received her Ph.D. from Duke University, is Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Penn. She holds a secondary position as Professor Extraordinaire at the University of Stellenbosch and has been a visiting Professor at Brown University and a Mellon Distinguished Lecturer at Wits. She is currently serving as Director of the Comparative Literature Program and, for many years, was the Faculty Director of the Alice Paul Center and the Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies Program.
Her scholarly interests lie in African and South African literature and cultural studies, modernism and global modernities, twentieth-century American literature (especially the 1930s), contemporary cinema, and the novel as genre. In 2005 she received the Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching, Penn’s highest teaching award and, in 2010, the SAS Award for Distinguished Teaching in the School of Liberal and Professional Studies.
To date, Rita Barnard has published two books: The Great Depression and the Culture of Abundance and Apartheid and Beyond: South African Writers and the Politics of Place. A third book project on global modernism is nearing completion. She is also the editor of The Cambridge Companion to Nelson Mandela (forthcoming in 2014, in time for the 20th anniversary of South Africa's democracy) and is working sporadically on a series of essays on apartheid education. Strange to say, she is also currently a graduate student, completing a Ph.D. in Creative Writing at the University of Pretoria under the direction of Dr. David Medalie.
Barnard is a founding member of the Society for Novel Studies and serves on the advisory boards of Contemporary Literature, Novel: A Forum on Fiction, PMLA, Research in African Literatures, Tydskrif vir Letterkunde/ Journal of Literary Studies, and English Studies in Africa. With Grant Farred, she co-edited After the Thrill is Gone: Ten Years of Democracy in South Africa, a special issue of South Atlantic Quarterly. She is the editor of Safundi: The Journal of South African and American Studies along with Andrew van der Vlies. Please see our website: www.safundi.com
In a much earlier life, Rita Barnard worked for Mulligans Models in Cape Time and appeared in many print and TV commercials. Perhaps as a result, she retains an abiding critical interest in fashion, consumerism, and mass-mediated culture.