University of Rochester

Joan Rubin Appointed to New York Council for the Humanities Board

March 5, 2009

Joan Shelley Rubin, professor of history at the University of Rochester, has been appointed to the board of the New York Council for the Humanities. An expert in American cultural and intellectual history, Rubin has focused on the popularization of the humanities, the uses of poetry, and the history of the book.

"Joan Rubin is a respected scholar whose research and personal interests make her an excellent advocate for the public humanities," said Sara Ogger, the council's executive director.

As part of her three-year term, Rubin will review grants for the 34-year-old council, which works to ensure that the humanities are present in the cultural life of New Yorkers. Her duties also include visiting Congress to advocate for increased funding for the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The history department's director of graduate studies, Rubin looks broadly at the values, assumptions, and anxieties that have shaped American life, as reflected in both high culture and the experiences of ordinary people. Most recently, she published Songs of Ourselves: The Uses of Poetry in America (Harvard University Press), which explores how readers made meaning in the past and how they encountered literature as lived experience. She is currently co-editing a volume for History of the Book in America which covers the book since 1945, including the impact of electronic media. Her previously published The Making of Middlebrow Culture is a study of the literary scene in the interwar period.