Erik Sherman Roraback teaches, researches, and writes at the conceptual intersections between and among literature / philosophy / cinema / theoretical psychoanalysis / critical theory. He was born in Seattle, USA, and serves as Director and faculty in the American Literature & Cultural-Studies section, and faculty in the Centre for Critical & Cultural Theory. Erik Roraback is a Docent of English and American Literature. At Charles and at FAMU (The Academy of Performing Arts, Film and TV School) of Prague, Czechia, he teaches critical theory / philosophy (from Spinoza-Leibniz-Schelling-Kant-Hegel to Heidegger-Arendt to Benjamin-Adorno-Luhmann-Jameson to Bataille-Blanchot-Foucault-Derrida-Nancy-Stiegler-Althusser-Rancière, and after), theoretical psychoanalysis (from Freud-Klein-Lacan-Kristeva-Žižek-Butler-Mari Ruti and after), commodity culture / experience and the philosophical baroque, transnational cinema (Griffith, Keaton, German Expressionism, Maya Deren, Italian neo-realism, American Film Noir, La Nouvelle Vague / French New Wave, Das Neue Kino / New German Cinema, American Neo-Noir, Chantal Akerman, et cetera), Henry James, Shakespeare-Orson Welles, Joyce’s Finnegans Wake, Pynchon, and USA and Canadian literature.
E.S. Roraback holds a D.Phil. from the University of Oxford, UK (viva voce examiners Terry Eagleton, St. Catherine’s College, Oxford and Maud Ellmann, King’s College, Cambridge) where he first taught individual tutorials for Magdalen College, Oxford and for Mansfield College, Oxford. He gained a B.A. from Pomona College, USA (Concentration in English Cum Laude) where he also spent one semester on a Pomona in University College, Oxford program (director All Souls College, Oxford) earning a 4.0 GPA studying under such scholars as Robert Maslen (Christ Church College), Geoffrey Tyack (Stanford University Centre in Oxford), and the Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity, Rowan Williams (Christ Church College and later Archbishop of Canterbury). Erik Roraback was unanimously elected Visiting Professor in the Université de Provence, France (2005), is a 7-time Visiting Erasmus + Scholar at the University of Winchester, UK (2012–present), and a 10-time Visiting Researcher at the Universität Konstanz, Germany (2004–14). In the English Department at the University of Washington-Seattle, USA, he was a Visiting Scholar from 2015–19, and now after an unanimous quorum of 45 faculty holds from September 2019 an Affiliate Associate Professor appointment. In December 2014 he was awarded a Five-Year University Visiting Research Fellowship in the Faculty of Arts at the University of Winchester; this Fellowship was renewed until October 2023. As a visiting D.Phil. student, he studied for six months in the École Normale Supérieure, and attended the 1995 Seminar of the Algerian-born Jewish-French philosopher Jacques Derrida in the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales at Paris on a French government grant; he also spent one academic year 1993 in the global south in the University of Western Australia on a Rotary Foundation Graduate Ambassadorial Scholarship where he earned an A+ for his comparative cultural research under Hilary Fraser (D.Phil., Oxon.).
Erik Roraback has published three notable books: The Dialectics of Late Capital and Power: James, Balzac and Critical Theory (Cambridge Scholars, UK, 2007, xviii + 312pp., 1 ill.), The Philosophical Baroque: On Autopoietic Modernities (Leiden/Boston: Brill, 2017, xvi + 295pp., 3 ill.) and The Power of the Impossible: On Community and the Creative Life (Winchester/Washington DC: Iff, 2018, x + 384pp., 3 ill.). Erik Roraback is currently preparing for publication three original book length monographs: I) forms of cinematic circulation and capital and their nexus with forms of aesthetic and economic movement and thought in transnational C20 cinema; II) a treatise on conflicts of authority, and of the sensible, which addresses the divisions and contradictions embedded in self-identity, in the cultural unconscious, in Shakespeare, and in cultural modernity; III) a manuscript on experience and commodity culture in USA literature and in critical theory. In addition, Erik Roraback has published or forthcoming in print 44 book chapters in scholarly monographs, or articles in scholarly 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, 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 is also the author of 70 conference papers, guest lectures, and plenary lectures in 15 countries in Europe (Aix-en-Provence, 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 (Evergreen State College-Olympia, Washington, K-State-Manhattan, Kansas, and Newport, Rhode Island). In October 2019, Jacques Rancière gave a shout out beforehand for Erik Roraback to participate in a post-film debate (with Nick Nesbitt from Princeton University) on the experimental film, Poems from which we have learned, which engages Rancière’s work. In March 2021, Erik Roraback gave a Winchester Fellowship lecture online on “Forms of Cinematic Capital: Circulation, Movement, and Thought” that was attended by a transnational audience, including Stanley Corngold (Princeton University), Henry Hills (Film Director and Guggenheim Fellow), Fredric R. Jameson (Duke University), and Paul Saint-Amour (University of Pennsylvania).
Erik S. Roraback welcomes thesis proposals in the following topic areas:
BA, MA, and PhD: USA fiction, especially Melville, James, Wharton, Zitkala-Ša (“Red Bird”), Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Stein, Faulkner, Baldwin, Pynchon, and D.F. Wallace; Shakespeare; Joyce; critical theory from Spinoza and Leibniz to Kant and German Idealism including Hegel to post-war French Theory to the Frankfurt School and after (including Benjamin, Adorno, Althusser, Foucault, Derrida, Rancière, Stiegler, and Jameson) to Systems Theory (Luhmann), to the Italian School (Agamben and Esposito) to philosophic and to psychoanalytic perspectives (Freud, Klein, Lacan, Kristeva, Žižek, and Butler), and encounters with cultural-studies and literature; USA and transnational cinema, particularly American Film Noir, American Neo-Noir, Keaton, and Welles and contemporary TV, such as Sons of Anarchy or The Expanse. Erik Roraback has supervised 5 PhD dissertations to the successful accomplishment of the doctoral degree (2009, 2010, 2012, 2014, and 2017) on subjects ranging from Pynchon / Joyce and the puzzle novel, local color fiction and southern US literature, textual and ideological space in writings by Pynchon, the cultural pair linkage between Welles / Shakespeare, and Melville and critical theory. Erik Roraback has also supervised to successful completion 24 MA and 17 BA theses; furthermore, he is the author of some 59 official reader’s reports as the opponent/external reader of various PHD (3), MFA (1 at FAMU), MA (30), and BA (25) theses.