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Robert Cowan


Robert Cowan is presently on leave from Kingsborough, serving as Acting Assistant Dean for Program Development, Assessment, & Review at Hunter College. He has taught for over 20 years in a variety of contexts, from Vassar College to a Siberian orphanage to Rikers Island. His areas of research are modern Francophone and Germanic literature and philosophy, creative writing, and critical pedagogy. He is the author of The Indo-German Identification: Reconciling South Asian Origins and European Destinies, 1765-1885 (Camden House, 2010) and is completing Teaching Double Negatives: Disenfranchisement and Dissent in Community College. His work has been supported by the American Comparative Literature Association, the American Association of Colleges & Universities, Columbia University, the Democracy Commitment, and the Mellon Foundation.


ENG 12: Freshman Composition I
ENG 24: Freshman Composition II
ENG 30: Introduction to Literature
ENG 35: Modern European Literature
ENG 40: Short Fiction
ENG 42: Poetry
ENG 65: Literature & Film
ENG 92: Developing Competence in Reading & Writing


Ph.D. Comparative Literature, The Graduate Center, CUNY, 2006
M.A. Comparative Literature, The Graduate Center, CUNY, 2004
B.A. Comparative Literature, University of Massachusetts-Amherst, 1994

College Teaching
2008-15 Kingsborough Community College, CUNY
2010, 12-13   Vassar College
2006-08 Hunter College, CUNY
2002-03 Queensborough Community College, CUNY
2000-01 Queens College, CUNY

Baruch College, CUNY

Selected Publications and/or Other Resources

See his profile on for a current CV.

Events and/or Key Dates

Recent Selected Presentations

2015 “As Persons: Literature and Real Power.” ACLA annual convention, U of Washington, Seattle, WA (26-29 Mar)

“Teaching Democratic Literature as Negative Ethics.” American Democracy Project/The Democracy Commitment National Meeting. Louisville, KY (5-7 Jun)

“ACDC Agency: Food and Politics with Community-College Students at Vassar.” Transitions and Transactions II: Literature and Creative Writing Pedagogies in Community Colleges. Borough of Manhattan Community College, CUNY, New York, NY (25-27 Apr)

“Bursting Our Bubbles: Sloterdijk and Our Ethical Future.” ACLA annual convention, New York University, New York, NY (20-23 Mar)


“Schopenhauer Lead Me to a Retarded Enlightenment,” “Für eine neue Aufklärung” Special Seminar: Strategies for Developing New Concepts of Enlightenment. GSA annual convention, Denver, CO (3-6 Oct)

“Valences of History,” Invited Moderator. GSA annual convention, Denver, CO (3-6 Oct)

“Inspired by Pessimism: Why We Need Negative Thinking.” International Comparative Literature Association (ICLA) triennial congress. Université Paris-Sorbonne, France (18-24 Jul)

“I Contradict You Because I Care: Negation as Ethical Response.” ACLA annual convention, University of Toronto, Canada (4-7 Apr)

Research Interests

Modern Francophone and Germanic literature and philosophy, creative writing, and critical pedagogy

Awards Recognition, Distinctions and Grants
Recent Honors
2013-14  Research Award (Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris, France), Professional Staff Congress of the City University of New York (PSC-CUNY)
2010-11 Faculty Fellowship Publications Program, CUNY

Research Award (Richard-Wagner-Museum & Nationalarchiv, Bayreuth, Germany), PSC-CUNY

President’s Faculty Innovation Award, Kingsborough CC, CUNY


Seminar Associate, South Asia Seminar, Columbia University

William Stewart Travel Award, CUNY Academy for the Humanities & Sciences

Institutional Affiliations / Professional Societies

American Comparative Literature Association
German Studies Association
International Comparative Literature Association
Modern Language Association

Personal Interests

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