Professor of American Studies (Emerita)
Professor Louise Barnett received a Ph.D. in English and American literature from Bryn Mawr College (1972) and has been at Rutgers since 1976 as a member of the English Department, an associate dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, a director of Study Abroad programs in Florence, Italy and Brighton, England, and a fellow of the Rutgers Center for Historical Analysis in 1998 and 2005. She joined the American Studies Department in 2005.
During her academic career Professor Barnett has maintained connections with universities in Italy, particularly the University of Rome, "La Sapienza," where she studied during a year as a Fulbright scholar, and the University of Florence, where she has taught classes and participated in oral examinations. In addition to a number of guest lectures at various Italian universities, her interest in Italy is reflected in two books: New World Journeys: Italian Intellectuals and the Experience of America (Greenwood Press, 1978), a collection of essays selected and translated with the collaboration of Professor Angela M. Jeannet; Heretical Empiricism, a collection of theoretical writings on film, linguistics, and literature by Pier Paolo Pasolini, edited by Professor Barnett and co-translated with Ben Lawton (Indiana University Press, 1988).
Professor Barnett's primary field is nineteenth-century American culture, which she has pursued in a number of directions. Her first book, The Ignoble Savage: American Literary Racism (Greenwood Press, 1976), examined representations of Native American characters in the popular genre of the nineteenth-century frontier romance. A later work of literary criticism, Authority and Speech: Language, Society and Self in the American Novel (University of Georgia Press, 1993), investigated the relationship between authority and speech in novels from early in the nineteenth century to the 1970s. In 1996 Professor Barnett published her best known book, Touched by Fire: The Life, Death, and Mythic Afterlife of George Armstrong Custer (Henry Holt). Touched by Fire also appeared in paperback and was reissued in 2006 in paperback by the University of Nebraska Press. It won the 1996 John M. Carroll award of the Little Big Horn Associates for best book on Custer related studies and led to various tv appearances, most notably on C-Span's Booknotes and an A&E biography of Custer. Another excursion into military history, Ungentlemanly Acts: The Army's Notorious Incest Trial, was selected by New York Public Library as one of the year 2000's twenty-five best books. In 2010 Professor Barnett's book, Atrocity and American Military Justice in Southeast Asia, was published by Routledge. In conjunction with this research she attended the thirtieth anniversary commemoration of the My Lai massacre in Vietnam where two Americans received medals from the government of Vietnam for their efforts to stop the massacre.
In teaching Professor Barnett developed two particular specialties in the English Department: the Vietnam War and Native American history and literature. She has also taught widely in American and English literature and nineteenth century American culture.
As a public service Professor Barnett translates newspaper articles from Italian for the website PeaceReporter.