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David Palumbo-Liu

Professor of Comparative Literature
Professor, by courtesy, of English
Louise Hewlett Nixon Professor
Chair of Graduate Studies, Comparative Literature
Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley (1988)

I am most interested in issues regarding environmental justice, race and ethnicity, human rights, globalization, and the specific role that literature and the humanities play in helping us address each of these areas.  My latest book, Speaking Out of Place: How to Get Our Political Voices Back, is a consideration of the idea of political voice, and was published by Haymarket Books in Dec 2021. I am currently working on a book tentatively entitled, Re-Placing Education.


My podcast, "Speaking Out of Place," is an extension of the book. It can be found on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon. We touch on topics such as academic labor strikes, US politics, teaching "political" subjects in the academy, and fighting sexual harassment and sexual violence on campus. We interview human rights experts, climate activists, abolitionists, and more. 

I help convene "Scholarship and Activism" (CL316), with support from The School of Humanities and Sciences and the Office of the President. This is a collaborative project that focuses on the intersection of learning and acting for positive change.

I am committed to nurturing decolonial and radical classes in which every one is a full participant and co-creator.  For an example of my style of literary criticism, and my sense of what literature can and should do, please read my review of Ruth Ozeki’s Book of Form and Emptiness.

My public writing has appeared in The Washington Post, The Nation,  Jacobin, Truthout, The Boston Review, The Guardian, Al Jazeera, Salon, The Hill, and other venues.  All my blogs and media appearances are on my website (

I have served on the Executive Council of the Modern Language Association, and as President of the American Comparative Literature Association.  I am a former Chair of the Stanford Faculty Senate.


(650) 725-4915
Pigott Hall, Bldg 260, Rm 229

Fields of Interest

social and cultural criticism, literary theory and criticism, East Asian and Asia Pacific American studies, and classical Chinese literature, and has subsequently worked in the areas of ethnic studies, Pacific Rim studies, and social theory