Assistant Professor of Digital Culture and Design, Department of English
Who judges whether a life is working or not working? These are difficult questions, and our task is not to resolve them; they are life questions." —Sara Ahmed, Living a Feminist Life
Anna Mukamal writes and teaches about what Sara Ahmed calls “life questions”— pressing social issues that we can only approach ethically through an intersectional framework, like the mental health crisis, gender-based violence, and climate change. Her research and pedagogy use literary and digital texts across media forms to assess not only how things were and how they are now, but also how things should have been as a way of imagining how things should be now.
Dr. Mukamal is working on a first book manuscript, The Therapeutic Encounter, which is about the different shapes taken by the relationship between patient and therapist over the course of the 20th century and into the 21st: from the formal, embodied structures of Freudian psychoanalysis in the 1930s to the pervasiveness of virtual and automated modalities in the 2020s. She focuses on how women and other marginalized patients, some well-known literary authors and other lesser-known individuals, use writing while in therapy as a tool to work through their relationships to gender, sexuality, race, and other aspects of minoritization. She also looks at the other side of writing, reading, to show how reading literature can feel like being in therapy because it helps us appreciate the conflicts and opportunities for growth that arise when we discover we do not know ourselves as well as we tend to think we do.
In her teaching, Dr. Mukamal is also thinking with DCD students about the connection between mental health and social justice movements, particularly in the generational cohort Gen Z (those born in/after 1996). In her next book project, she will study young adult novels, podcasts, television, youth activism, and a large corpus of social media and internet discourse to learn how Gen Z thinks through the tension between caring for the self and caring for the collective.
Ph.D. in English and Graduate Certificate in Digital Humanities, Stanford University, 2022
B.A. in English and Spanish, Duke University, 2017
- “The Generative Dissensus of Reading the Feminist Novel, 1995-2020: A Computational Analysis of Interpretive Communities,” with Lisa Mendelman (Associate Professor of English and Digital Humanities, Menlo College), Journal of Cultural Analytics (2021): https://doi.org/10.22148/001c.30009
- “The twinge of recognition: Or, towards a theory of therapeutic identification,” ASAP/J: Journal of the Association for the Study of the Arts of the Present (2021): https://asapjournal.com/the-character-of-literary-criticism-the-twinge-of-recognition-or-towards-a-theory-of-therapeutic-identification-anna-mukamal/
- “Project Managing the Modernist Archives Publishing Project,” solicited article in special issue on Student Labor in Digital Humanities, Digital Studies/Le champ numérique (2021): https://doi.org/10.16995/dscn.375
- “The Affordances of Mere Length: Computational Approaches to Short Story Analysis,” with Mark Algee-Hewitt (Associate Professor of English and Director of the Literary Lab, Stanford University) and J.D. Porter (Digital Humanities Specialist, Price Lab, University of Pennsylvania), The Cambridge Companion to the American Short Story (2023): https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009292863.028
- "Modeling Therapy as Discourse in Twentieth-Century American Literature," with Mark Algee-Hewitt, Lisa Mendelman, and Kendra Terry (PhD Candidate in Clinical Psychology, Adelphi University), American Literary History: https://doi.org/10.1093/alh/ajad143
Digital Culture and Design; Digital Humanities (especially feminist DH); Critical Making (especially interdisciplinary digital projects); Synthesizing methods of literary studies (like close reading) with methods of computational text analysis (like distant reading); Methods of ethical data collection and visualization as social justice tools
Digital Humanities; Feminist Studies; 20th and 21st century literature; History and futures of psychotherapy; Mental health; Digital culture; Social justice; Cultural analytics; Literary sociology