Rochelle L Rives

Picture of Rochelle  Rives



Office: N-771A

Office Hours:

Phone: +1 (212) 220-8000;ext=7480

I specialize in transatlantic modernist literature and have further research and teaching interests in visual culture, aesthetics, history of science, postcolonial literature, contemporary transnational literature, and critical theory. My book, Modernist Impersonalities: Affect, Authority, and the Subject (Palgrave 2012), examines the topic of “impersonality” in modernist literature as a response to the pervasive power of “personality” in social and political life. It charts an alternative modernist genealogy that links what has traditionally been interpreted as a conservative aesthetic doctrine to a more progressive understanding of affect and the emotions. My second monograph, The New Physiognomy: Modern Aesthetics and Facial Form, continues investigating the problem that personality poses for modernist expression, connecting a modernist preoccupation with the face to problems of aesthetic form and expression and to the critical practice of reading. This work extends to a consideration of the new facial realities born of the Covid-19 pandemic–including masking and zooming–as well as new technologies such as Facial Recognition Technology and the widely scrutinized deepfake video. Portions of the manuscript, on Mina Loy, Gaudier-Brzeska, Joseph Conrad, and Oscar Wilde appear in Journal of Modern Literature, Criticism, and PMLA. I also write regularly on film and other aspects of visual culture, and my article on French film director Robert Bresson and the problems animals pose for narrative appears Symploke. Aside from composition courses at BMCC, I regularly teach Introduction to Literary Studies, Postcolonial Literature, The European Novel, Women and Literature, and Modern World Literature.

I am also a three time winner of the Chancellor’s Award for Distinguished Faculty at CUNY, or the William P. Kelley Research Fellowship, and my research has also been supported by the Mellon Foundation and the University of California at Los Angeles as well as other institutions.


Modernism, History of Science, Visual Culture, Film, Aesthetics


  • B.A. University of Texas at Austin, English and History
  • Ph.D. University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, English Language and Literature

Courses Taught

Research and Projects


  • Modernist Impersonalities: Affect, Authority, and the Subject, 2012, Palgrave
  • “The Voice of an Animal: Robert Bresson and Narrative Form,” 2016, Symploke
  • “Facing Wilde; Or, Emotion’s Image,” 2015, PMLA
  • “Face Values: Optics as Ethics in Joseph Conrad’s The Secret Agent,” 2014, Criticism
  • “Modernist Prosopopoeia: Mina Loy, Gaudier-Brzeska and the Making of Face,” 2011, Journal of Modern Literature
  • A Straight Eye for the Queer Guy: Mary Butts’ Fag-Hag and the Modernist Group, 2008, Modernist Group Dynamics: The Politics and Poetics of Friendship (Cambridge)
  • Things that Lie on the Surface: Modernism, Impersonality, and Emotional Inexpressibility 2007, Disclosure: A Journal of Social Theory
  • No Real Men: Mary Butts’ Socio-Sexual Politics, A Response to Andrew Radford, 2009, Connotations: A Journal for Critical Debate
  • Problem Space: Mary Butts, Modernism, and the Etiquette of Placement,” 2005, Modernism/Modernity

Honors, Awards and Affiliations

  • Chancellor’s Research Fellowship for Distinguished Faculty, 2015-2016; 2017-2018; 2019
  • Andrew Mellon Mid-Career Fellowship, Interdisciplinary Committee for Science Studies, 2014-2015
  • PSC CUNY Research Grant, Cycles 46, 44, 43, 41, 39

Additional Information