Rachel A. Aumiller

Rachel A. Aumiller

Research Interests


B.A. in Philosophy, Goucher College (2009), Ph.D. in Philosophy, Villanova University (2016).

Rachel Aumiller is interested in the ethical and political dimensions of emotions, sensations, and desire. She specifically analyzes touch as the site of disorientation and crisis. The crisis of touch ranges from ethical ambiguities surrounding sexual intimacy, to the tension between experiences of pleasure and cultural norms, to the politics of proximity and distance in response to epidemics.

In A Touch of Doubt: On Haptic Scepticism (De Gruyter 2021), Aumiller articulates a queer feminist ethics of intimacy in the disruption of beliefs embodied in practices and cultures of touching. She further develops an ethics grounded in ambiguity and doubt through a number of articles including, “Fantasies of Forgetting Our Mother Tongue” in the Journal for Speculative Philosophy, awarded “2018 Best Submission by a Junior Scholar” by the Society of Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy.

Aumiller’s analysis of sensation and emotion in contemporary society is oriented in her training in ancient, 19th-, and 20 th -century European philosophy, literature, and psychoanalysis. Her forthcoming book, The Laughing Matter of Spirit (Northwestern University Press), highlights the politics of laughter within a Hegelian-Marxist tradition. In response to the 1842 Prussian censorship of “volatile emotions,” Marx and his companions adopt laughter, understood through the lens of Hegel’s philosophy of ancient comedy, as the spirit of modern resistance. Aumiller argues that social change erupts from a historical stage that can no longer look upon its own contradictions with a straight face. Revolution is history’s laughter or the laughing matter of Spirit.

Aumiller’s awards and fellowships include a U.S. Fulbright scholarship to conduct research at the University of Ljubljana (2014-15), a fellowship at the Maimonides Center for Advanced Studies in Jewish Scepticism at the University of Hamburg (2017-19), and a fellowship at the ICI Berlin Institute for Cultural Inquiry (2020-2022). Before joining the faculty at Columbia, she taught philosophy and literature at the University of Hamburg
(2017-2020) and Villanova University (2012-16).

For more information on Rachel Aumiller, click here

Aumiller, Rachel. “Haptic Reductions: a sceptic’s guide for responding to the touch of crisis.” The Case for Reduction. Eds. Christoph F.E. Holzey and Jakob Schillinger. (Berlin: ICI Berlin Press, 2022).

Aumiller, Rachel. “The Virtue of Erotic Curiosity.” Philosophy and Literature. Vol. 46.1, (2022). 208-222.

Aumiller, Rachel (ed). A Touch of Doubt: On Haptic Scepticism. (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2021).

Aumiller, Rachel. “The Aborted Object of Comedy and the Birth of the Subject: Plato and Aristophanes’ Alliance.” The Object of Comedy. Eds. Gregor Moder and Jamila Mascat. (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2020). 75-92.

Aumiller, Rachel. “Fantasies of Forgetting Our Mother Tongue.” Journal of Speculative Philosophy. Vol. 33. No. 3 (2019). 368-380.

Aumiller, Rachel. “The Lick of the Mother Tongue: Derrida, Augustine and Marx on the Touch of Language.” The Language of Touch: Philosophical Examinations in Linguistics and Haptic Studies. Ed. Mirt Komel. (New York: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2019). 107-120.

Aumiller, Rachel. “Twice-Two: Hegel’s Comic Redoubling of Being and Nothing.” Problemi International: Journal for Psychoanalytic Theory and Philosophy. Vol 2. (Spring 2018). 253-278.

Aumiller, Rachel. “Epoché as the Erotic Conversion of One into Two.” The Yearbook for the Maimonides Centre for Advanced Studies in Scepticism. Vol. 2. (2017). 3-13.

Aumiller, Rachel. “Antigone’s Stance amongst Slovenia’s Undead.” Studia ethnologica Croatica. Vol. 29. (2017). 19-42.

Aumiller, Rachel. “Dasein’s Shadow and the Moment of its Disappearance.” Human Studies: A Journal for Philosophy and the Social Sciences. Vol. 40, Issue 1 (Spring 2016). 25-41.