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  • Sarah Wasserman
    Assistant Professor
    University of Delaware
    Department of English
    220 Memorial Hall
    Newark, DE 19716
    (302) 831-3654
    Office Hours: On sabbatical Spring 2018


    ​Sarah Wasserman specializes in American literature from 1900 to today, with an emphasis on post-1945 and contemporary fiction. Her research and teaching interests include material culture studies, literary theory, urban studies, popular culture, and digital humanities. Her current book project, The Death of Things: Ephemera in America, examines literary representations of disappearing objects in American culture from the beginning of the twentieth century until today.

    Professor Wasserman is the co-editor, with Babette Tischleder, of Cultures of Obsolescence: History, Materiality, and the Digital Age (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015). Her essays and reviews have appeared in Contemporary Literature, Modern Fiction Studies, and The Journal of American Studies.

    Before joining the department at the University of Delaware, Professor Wasserman taught in Germany at the JFK Institute for North American Studies at the Free University Berlin. She is also the recipient of the Wayne C. Booth Prize for Excellence in Teaching from the University of Chicago.


  • Ph.D., English, Princeton University, 2013
  • M.A., Humanities, University of Chicago, 2005

Research Projects 

  • The Death of Things: Ephemera in America
    Wasserman, Sarah
    This is an interdisciplinary book project that explores the stories of loss told by the vanishing objects in contemporary American literature and popular culture. From the paper-maché palaces of the Chicago Columbian Exposition to the abraded edges and smeared ink of missing persons fliers that covered Manhattan after 9/11; from the newspapers in Theodore Dreiser’s Sister Carrie (1900) to the debris in Don DeLillo’s Underworld (1997), ephemeral objects demand a reckoning with loss that remains inimical to the American culture of production and consumption. The book examines pivotal episodes of 20th and 21st century American life through those episodes’ transient objects and the contemporary narratives that archive those objects.


  • Cultures of Obsolescence: History, Materiality, and the Digital Age
    Wasserman, Sarah; Babette B. Tischleder
    New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015.

    ​Obsolescence is fundamental to the experience of modernity, not simply one dimension of an economic system. The contributors to this book investigate obsolescence as a historical phenomenon, an aesthetic practice, and an affective mode. Because obsolescence depends upon the supersession and disappearance of what is old and outmoded, this volume sheds light on what usually remains unseen or overlooked. Calling attention to the fact that obsolescence can structure everything from the self to the skyscraper, Cultures of Obsolescence asks readers to rethink existing relationships between the old and the new. Moreover, the essays in this volume argue for the paradoxical ways in which subjects and their concepts of the human, of newness, and of the future are constituted by a relationship to the obsolete.

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