Eric Rabkin is Arthur F. Thurnau Professor Emeritus, Professor Emeritus of English Language and Literature, and Professor Emeritus of Art and Design at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Born (1946) and raised in New York City and educated at Stuyvesant H.S., Cornell University (A.B., 1967), and the University of Iowa (Ph.D., 1970), he joined the Michigan faculty as an assistant professor in 1970, became associate professor in 1974, full professor in 1977, and emeritus professor in 2013, the year in which he became Professor of Writing and Rhetoric and first Associate Provost for Online Education at Stony Brook University, where he remained until 2015. He now lives in Somerset, New Jersey, with his wife, Elizabeth Rabkin, a retired elementary-school teacher. They have two children, David Ivan Rabkin (b. 1970) and Rachel Rabkin Peachman (b. 1975), and four grandchildren. His current research interests include graphic narrative, fantasy and science fiction, pedagogy, academic computing, the quantitative study of culture, and traditional literary criticism and theory.
Rabkin has over one-hundred-seventy publications, including thirty-four books written, co-written, edited, or co-edited, including Narrative Suspense (1973); The Fantastic in Literature (1976); Science Fiction: History, Science, Vision (with Robert Scholes, 1977); Teaching Writing That Works: A Group Approach to Practical English (with Macklin Smith, 1990); It's A Gas: A Study of Flatulence (with Eugene M. Silverman, 1991); Stories: An Anthology and an Introduction (1995); The Rise and Fall of Twentieth Century Formula Fiction (ed. with Carlo Pagetti, 2001); Mars: A Tour of the Human Imagination (2005); Masterpieces of the Imaginative Mind (audio/video lecture series, 2007); and Visions of Mars (ed. with Howard Hendrix and George Slusser, 2011).
As a teacher, Rabkin was especially known for his large, popular lecture courses on science fiction and fantasy, and for his many teaching innovations, including the development of the highly successful Practical English writing program for those who will use writing in their work lives, and for his work at all levels, including faculty training, in research and communication applications of computer technologies. He offered the world's first writing-intensive MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) through the University of Michigan and Coursera (2012). He received the University Teaching Award (1990), the LS&A Excellence in Education Award (2000), and the Golden Apple Award (2006) given annually by the students for the outstanding teacher at the University of Michigan.
As an administrator, Rabkin filled many roles at the University of Michigan. He was co-founder and first director (1976-82) of the university-wide Collegiate Institute for Values and Science. As Associate Dean for Long Range Planning for the College of Literature, Science and the Arts (1979-83), he helped guide College-wide restructuring during difficult economic times; he developed the College planning system linking departmental review, academic planning, and hiring; and he established the position of Minority Affairs Officer, of which he was the first occupant. He served as Interim Chair of the Department of Linguistics and, simultaneously, as Interim Director of the English Language Institute (1982-84). As the University's Acting Director of Academic Information Processes (1997-98), he helped lead improvement and innovation in the development and uses of academic information technology both intramurally and extramurally.
Rabkin has lectured widely, to both general and academic audiences, on fantasy, science fiction, fairy tales, graphic narrative, humor, American literature, literary theory, culture studies, pedagogy, composition, administration, and information technology. He has had lecture tours in the U.S., Europe, Australia, and S. Korea, and, from 1990 through 1996, offered a regular Commentary on language and culture topics on WUOM-FM radio.
Rabkin has served as a consultant to over sixty publishers, journals, and other organizations and was the founder of Write On Target, a corporate communications consulting firm.
Rabkin's awards include a Fellowship from the American Council for Learned Societies (1973), research funding from the American Philosophical Society (1991), and the University of Michigan Distinguished Faculty Achievement Award (2005). He received the Science Fiction Research Association's Pilgrim Award for lifetime achievement in science fiction scholarship (2010).