Mari Ruti

Professor Mari Ruti is an interdisciplinary scholar of the theoretical humanities. She works at the intersection of contemporary theory, continental philosophy, psychoanalytic theory, cultural studies, trauma theory, ethics, and gender and sexuality studies. She holds a doctorate (2000) from the Harvard Comparative Literature Department and a Diplôme d’Études Approfondies (1996) from the University of Paris 7, where she studied under the guidance of Julia Kristeva.

Ruti is the author of ten scholarly books:
  1. Reinventing the Soul: Posthumanist Theory and Psychic Life (New York: Other Press, 2006)
  2. A World of Fragile Things: Psychoanalysis and the Art of Living (Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 2009)
  3. The Summons of Love (New York: Columbia University Press, 2011)
  4. The Singularity of Being: Lacan and the Immortal Within (New York: Fordham University Press, 2012)
  5. The Call of Character: Living a Life Worth Living (New York: Columbia University Press, 2013)
  6. Between Levinas and Lacan: Self, Other, Ethics (New York: Bloomsbury Press, 2015)
  7. The Age of Scientific Sexism: How Evolutionary Psychology Promotes Gender Profiling and Fans the Battle of the Sexes (New York: Bloomsbury Press, 2015)
  8. Feminist Film Theory and “Pretty Woman” (New York: Bloomsbury Press, 2016)
  9. The Ethics of Opting Out: Queer Theory’s Defiant Subjects (New York: Columbia University Press, in press; forthcoming March 2017)
  10. Femininity and Bad Feelings: On Everyday Life (New York: Columbia University Press, forthcoming).
In 2000-2004, Ruti held a lectureship at Harvard’s Program for the Study of Women, Gender, and Sexuality, and also served as the program’s assistant director. She arrived at the University of Toronto Mississauga (UTM) in 2004, was tenured in 2008, and promoted to full professor in 2013. In the UTM Department of English and Drama, Ruti teaches courses on contemporary theory, literary criticism, cultural studies, film theory, psychoanalysis, trauma theory, and feminist theory. On the St. George campus, Ruti teaches graduate seminars in the English Department and at the Mark S. Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies (SDS). In English, her courses focus on contemporary theory, continental philosophy, psychoanalytic theory, and posthumanist ethics. In SDS, she teaches an annual graduate seminar on queer theory, which is the core requirement for the SDS Graduate Certificate. This seminar draws a diverse group of graduate students from both the humanities and the social sciences.

Ruti’s scholarship addresses questions of subjectivity, relationality, psychic life, desire, affect, power, agency, autonomy, creativity, oppression, social change, and contemporary ethics. Some of her books take a philosophical and contemplative approach, exploring subjective experience, psychic life, self-transformation, and the quest for personal meaning. For example, she looks at the processes through which individuals develop a distinctive character; how they decide what they most value in life; how they grow through relationships; and how love, loss, hardship, disenchantment, and the necessities of mourning shape the contours of who they are. She has also written extensively on the ethics of the self-other relationship, including the dilemmas generated by the unreadability, unpredictability, and radical vulnerability of others.

Ruti’s more politically oriented scholarship examines questions of social power, oppression, and agency; the impact of social inequalities and collective toxins on psychic and affective life; personal and collective trauma; bad feelings such as anxiety and depression; and the psychic and political processes that allow individuals to cope with adverse circumstances and sometimes even translate pain into personal meaning. She is particularly interested in how subordinated individuals––individuals subjected to poverty, sexism, racism, homophobia, and various personal traumas––come to attain enough critical distance from their surroundings to be able to resist the collective forces that oppress them. For this reason, the complexities of agency, particularly the relationship between subjection and autonomy, have long been central to her scholarship.

Ruti’s recent scholarship on feminist and queer theory investigates biopolitics; neoliberalism; postfeminism; contemporary ideals of femininity; new forms of heteropatriarchy; female self-objectification; queer antinormativity; queer negativity/pessimism; queer utopianism/optimism; queer discourses of failure and bad feelings; the relationship between queer theory and affect theory; and ethical debates within queer theory.

Ruti is currently working on three projects: Distillations: Theory, Ethics, Affect (under contract at Bloomsbury Press); The Disenchanted: Queer Theory Between Negativity and Flourishing; and What Is Left of the Universal? Feminist Theory and Global Justice. She is also co-editor of the Psychoanalytic Horizons Book Series for Bloomsbury Press. In 2016-2017, Ruti is a Visiting Professor in the Harvard Program for the Study of Women, Gender, and Sexuality.