Marie Satya McDonough



BA, McGill University
MA, PhD, University of Chicago

Rm 515

While my research focuses on ethnic American literatures since 1945, my teaching in the department spans almost 3000 years, starting with Homer and ending with recent work by Bechdel, De Lillo, Morrison, and others. Particular points of emphasis in my recent teaching are critical race studies, theatre, postcolonial literatures, graphic fiction, and theories of sex and gender. As a scholar and teacher, I’m interesting in thinking about how and what we learn from our reading. In this context, my current book project, Intimate Pedagogies: U.S. Social Movements and the Ethics of Reading, interrogates how the project of the self was articulated as a political concern in American literature from the 1960s to the early 1990s. In my study of environmentalist polemics, poetry by Native American authors, African American feminist fiction, and memoirs by gay writers, I want to shift the focus from seemingly self-evident categories of identity toward an ethics of the care of the self. In so doing, I argue for the pedagogical and philosophical centrality of ethical exemplarity in this literary tradition. My scholarship combines two rarely paired methodologies: on one hand, I work closely with the material traces of readers’ responses to books: I study fan mail, letters to the editor and online fan discussion boards to show how readers describe the transformative effects of my primary texts. On the other, I draw extensively on contemporary moral philosophy, and particularly the work of Michel Foucault and Stanley Cavell, to better understand the stakes of and give texture to my account of contemporary literary pedagogy.

Selected Publications
  • “Circulation, résistance, perméabilité: Cavell et la littérature écologique américaine” [Circulation, Resistance, Permeability: Cavell and American Ecological Literature] in Le travail de la littérature: Usages du littéraire en philosophie (Rennes, France: Presses Universitaires de Rennes, forthcoming 2011).
Work in Progress
  • Intimate Pedagogies: U.S. Social Movements and the Ethics of Reading
Selected Honors and Awards
  • Blair Dissertation Fellowship, University of Chicago (2010-2011)
  • François Furet Award, France Chicago Center (2009)
  • Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada Doctoral Fellowship (2007-2009)
  • Century Fellowship, University of Chicago (2005-2010)