Prof Rachel Bowlby

Professor of Comparative Literature


Faculty of Arts & Humanities

Joined UCL
1st Oct 2004

Research summary

My most recent books are Talking Walking (2018) and Everyday Stories (2016). With other books on consumer culture already in the bag (Just Looking, Shopping with Freud, Carried Away). I am now writing a new book on shopping and its many histories and futures.

Another area of interest is the history of stories about parenthood. A Child of One's Own (2013). This is about the ways  in which parenthood has been a focus for new kinds of story and argument since it became, in the 20th century, a matter of 'choice', firstnegatively, through contraception, and then positively, through new reproductive technologies. The book discusses issues surrounding new family forms, and also looks back to 18th- and 19th-century writings about parenthood, to draw out patterns of thinking that bear on those of today.

I have written also on Greek tragedy and psychoanalysis; and on Virginia Woolf and feminist criticism (Freudian Mythologies, Feminist Destinations). In addition, I have translated a number of books of contemporary French philosophy, by writers including Jacques Derrida and Jean-François Lyotard.

Teaching summary


Yale University
Doctorate, Doctor of Philosophy | 1983
University of Oxford
First Degree, Bachelor of Arts (Honours) | 1979


My first degree, at Oxford, was in Latin and Greek Literature and in English; my PhD at Yale was in Comparative Literature.

I previously taught at the universities of Sussex, York, and Oxford. From 2004-14 I was Lord Northcliffe Professor of English Literature at UCL; presently I am Professor of Comparative Literature.