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About Robert Rotenberg

Robert Rotenberg's research agenda expands our understanding of urban spaces as unique locations for generating knowledge. The question that has guided most of his research is "What difference does it make in people's lives that they live in a l;argue city instead of a smaller urban location or a village?" Trained as a linguistically-oriented ethnographer, he received his Ph.D. in cultural anthropology from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst in 1978. His early influences were Simmel, Weber, Elias, Lefabvre, and Wolf. He studied directly with Wolf through the Europe Seminar organized by Jane Schneider at CUNY Graduate center in 1977 and 1978, when the seminar served as a incubator for ideas that eventually found their way into "Europe and the People without History." With a focus on Central European metropolises, especially, Vienna, Prague and Budapest, he was an early organizer of the Society for the Anthropology of Europe, Vienna served as a laboratory for testing several ideas about urban life, including the production of temporal meaning (Time and Order in Vienna: A Seizure of Schedule. Smithsonian Press 1992), the production of spatial meaning (Landscape and Power in Vienna. Johns Hopkins Press 1995), the production of identity ("The Metropolis and Everyday Life" In Gmelch and Zimmer, Urban Life (3rd) 1995 and (4th) 2005), and the production of memory ("Extraordinary Vienna" in City and Society Annual Review 1997). Several of his articles have been anthologized or received frequent citations from other authors, including “La Pensée Bourgeoisie in the Biedermeier Garden,” and "Judging the Adequacy of Shelter: A Case from Lincoln Park." Together with Gary McDonogh, he co-edited and wrote the introduction to The Cultural Meaning of Urban Space, one of the volumes that launched the "space and place" research focus in urban anthropology. His work on landscape brought him into contact with landscape architects and historians. His chapter "Space, Place Site and Locality: The Study of Landscape in Cultural Anthropology" was recently published in a volume intended to explore the neighboring disciplines of landscape architecture.
Rotenberg has always minted an active scholarly interest in post-secondary pedagogy. This lead to his book The Art and Craft of College Teaching: A Guide for new professors and graduate students (2nd, Left Coast Press 2010). This interest grew out of his administrative role as a program director and department chair, positions he has occupied continuously since 1984. Rotenberg's approach to teaching is developmental. Students need to seen by instructors as individuals with a specific set of strengths and weaknesses, opportunities and threats. But instructors also need to be seen as developing different strengths and weaknesses at different points in their career cycle. The book has become a popular title because it avoids the 'bag of tricks' format in favor of empowering the new instructor to understand the opportunities and limitations of different classroom encounters.


Present Vincent de Paul Professor of Anthropology, DePaul University

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Contact Information

DePaul UIniversity
2343 N. Racine Ave
Chicago, IL 60614