Commonwealth Journal

A Production of WUMB and the University of Massachusetts Boston

Faculty & Staff

photo of Rachel Rubin

Rachel Rubin, PhD

  • Host, Commonwealth Journal Department Chair and Professor of American Studies, College of Liberal Arts
  • Telephone: 617.287.6773
  • Office Location: Wheatley Hall,05,00060

Areas of Expertise

American Popular Culture, Ethnic Literatures, American Popular Music


PhD, American Studies and Slavic Languages and Literatures, Yale University

Professional Publications & Contributions

Additional Information

Rache Rubin is currently the department chair of American studies, College of Liberal Arts, at the University of Massachusetts Boston. She is a prolific author, a dynamic speaker, a nationally recognized media commentator and a devoted teacher. Her research and teaching passions are:

  • American popular music
  • Appalachian cultural history
  • Cultural history of American radicalism
  • American ethnic literatures

For the past three years, she has served as department chair overseeing ten faculty members. Prior to her 15-year tenure at UMass Boston, she taught for nine years at Yale University where she earned her PhD in the American Studies Program and the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures. She has always been interested in the ways ordinary people use popular culture to make sense of their lives, particularly their working lives. Her course, Popular Culture in America, typically draws 100 students and she incorporates her love of popular music into every aspect of her life, as a scholar and as a fan.

Professor Rubin is the author and editor of six books and dozens of scholarly articles and book chapters. Her most recent book, Well Met: How the Renaissance Faire Invented the 1960s and Lived to Tell the Tale, is scheduled for an October release. She is invited to speak often on topics related to her books:

  • Immigration and American Popular Culture
  • Scholarly edition of A House Is Not a Home by Polly Adler
  • Southern Radicalism since Reconstruction
  • American Identities: An Introductory Textbook
  • American Popular Music: New Approaches to the Twentieth Century
  • Jewish Gangsters of Modern Literature

Professor Rubin is in high demand as a weekly commentator on The Callie Crossley Show on NPR affiliate WGBH and for many other media organizations. Her newest commitment is as one of the hosts of Commonwealth Journal. She is also a frequent speaker for the John F. Kennedy Library Summer Institute for Teachers and a conference presenter at many professional associations including the American Studies Association and the Society for the Study of Multi-Ethnic Literature of the United States (MELUS). Originally from Baltimore, MD, she now calls Cambridge, MA home.