American Literature

Deborah MADSEN

Prof. Deborah MADSEN

Professeure ordinaire

+41 (0)22 379 78 84

Additional Information / Informations Supplémentaires

Office and Office Hour / Bureau et heure de réception

Seminar Pages / Pages de séminaire: available on Chamilo

Research Interests / Recherches

Deborah Madsen completed her undergraduate and Master's degrees in English at the University of Adelaide in South Australia; she was awarded a prestigious Commonwealth Scholarship to undertake doctoral studies at the University of Sussex in England. Before becoming Professor of American Literature and Culture at Geneva, she was Reader in English and Director of American Studies at the University of Leicester, then Professor of English at London South Bank University. She has held visiting appointments at the Universities of Adelaide, Bern, Fribourg, and Cambridge.

Her research focuses on issues of settler-colonialism, Indigeneity, and nationalism, exemplified by her work on American Exceptionalism and the white supremacist ideology of Manifest Destiny. She is an Associate Editor of the journal Contemporary Women’s Writing (Oxford University Press), immediate past President of the Swiss Association for North American Studies (SANAS), and has served on the Editorial Board of the Encyclopedia of American Studies (published by Johns Hopkins University Press for the American Studies Association), as well as the Editorial Advisory Committee of PMLA.

Her current research project, “Digital Narratology: Decolonizing Strategies in Indigenous Virtual Media,” engages close textual analyses of Native North American interactive digital media in the context of critical Indigenous studies.


Proposals from prospective PhD students are invited in the following areas: comparative Indigenous and settler-colonial studies; eco-feminism; narratological approaches to digital media.


Selection of Books and Monographs / Sélection de livres et monographies

(ed.) The Routledge Companion to Native American Literature (New York & London: Routledge, 2015).

(ed.) The Poetry and Poetics of Gerald Vizenor (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2012).

(ed.) Louise Erdrich. Continuum Studies in Contemporary North American Fiction (London: Continuum, 2011).

(ed. with Mario Klarer) The Visual Culture of Modernism. SPELL 26. Swiss Papers in English Language and Literature. (Tübingen: Gunter Narr, 2011).

(ed. with A. Robert Lee) Gerald Vizenor: Texts and Contexts. (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2010).

(ed.) Native Authenticity: Transatlantic Approaches to Native American Literatures (Albany: SUNY Press, 2010).

(ed. with Andrea Riemenschnitter) Diasporic Histories: Cultural Archives of Chinese Transnationalism (Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 2009).

Understanding Gerald Vizenor (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2009).

(ed. with Michael Hanrahan) Teaching, Technology and Textuality: Approaches to New Media (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006).

(ed.) Asian American Writers Dictionary of Literary Biography, vol. 312 (Detroit: Gale Group, 2005).

Feminist Theory and Literary Practice (London: Pluto Press, 2000); Chinese edition, ed. Jin Li (Beijing Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press, 2006).

American Exceptionalism (Edinburgh & London: Edinburgh University Press; Jackson, MS: University of Mississippi Press, 1998).

Allegory in America: From Puritanism to Postmodernism (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 1996).

Rereading Allegory: A Narrative Approach to Genre (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1994).

The Postmodernist Allegories of Thomas Pynchon (London & Leicester: Leicester University Press; New York: St Martin’s Press, 1991). Excerpts reprinted in Harold Bloom (ed.), Thomas Pynchon (New York: Chelsea House, 2003).

Selected Articles and Chapters / Sélection d'articles et de chapitres

“Ambiguity.” In Thomas Pynchon in Context. Ed. Inger H. Dalsgaard. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2019. 298-306.

“Indigenizing the Internet.” In The Cambridge History of Native American Literature. Ed. Melanie B. Taylor. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2020. 481-500.

“The Exceptional Power of the Dead in Heid Erdrich's National Monuments.” In Enduring Critical Poses:            The Legacy and Life of Anishinaabe Literature and Letters. Ed. Gordon Henry Jr., Margaret Noodin, & David Stirrup. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2021. 149-75.

“'Communitism' in Aktion: Indigene Gemeinschaft, dekolonialer Aktivismus und Videospiel-Narrativ in Kisima Ingitchuna (Never Alone)” [“'Communitism' in Action: Indigenous Community, Decolonizing Activism, and Video Game Narrative in Kisima Ingitchuna (Never Alone)”] trans. Andreas Fliedner. Subjektivität und Fremdheit in demokratischen Gemeinschaften: Beiträge am Schnittpunkt von Literatur und Politischer Philosophie [Subjectivity and Foreignness in Democratic Communities: Contributions on the Interface between Literature and Political Philosophy], ed. Michael Festl & Philipp Schweighauser.  (Paderborn: Wilhelm Fink Verlag, 2018), pp. 257-83.

“The Mechanics of Survivance in Indigenously-Determined Video-Games: Invaders and Never Alone.” Transmotion: A Journal of Indigenous Studies, 3.2 (2017), pp. 79-110.

“Leslie Marmon Silko.” In Oxford Bibliographies in American Literature. Ed. Jackson Bryer. New York: Oxford University Press, 27 June 2018. DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199827251-0174.

“Silko, Freud, and the Voicing of Disavowed Histories,” Leslie Marmon Silko, ed. David Moore. Bloomsbury Studies in Contemporary North American Fiction (London: Bloomsbury, 2016), pp. 133-52.

“Discontinuous Narrative, Ojibwe Sovereignty, and the Wiindigoo Logic of Settler Colonialism: Louise Erdrich's Marn Wolde.” Studies in American Indian Literatures, 28.3 (Fall 2016), pp. 23-51.

“The Sovereignty of Transmotion in a State of Exception: Lessons from the Internment of 'Praying Indians' on Deer Island, Massachusetts Bay Colony, 1675-1676.” Transmotion: A Journal of Indigenous Studies, 1. 1 (2015), pp. 23-47.

“Over Her Dead Body: Talking About Violence Against Women in Recent Chicana Writing,” in The Intimate and the Extimate: Violence and Gender in the Globalized World, ed. Sanja Bahun-Radunovic and V.G. Julie Rajan, 2nd ed. (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2015), pp. 255-69.

“The Contexts of Native. American. Literature.” The Routledge Companion to Native American Literature, ed. Deborah L. Madsen (New York & London: Routledge, 2015), pp.1-12.

“Human Exceptionalism: Vizenor's Autogrammatological Critique of Ecologocentrism,” in Ecology and Life Writing, ed. Alfred Hornung & Zhao Baisheng (Heidelberg: Winter, 2013), pp. 123-142.

“The Rhetoric of Double Allegiance: Imagined Communities in North American Diasporic Chinese Literatures,” Ranan: recherches anglaises et nord américaines, special issue: Imagined Communities, Recuperated Homelands: Rethinking American and Canadian Minority and Exilic Writing, ed. Monica Manolescu & Charlotte Sturgess, 46 (2013), pp. 29-44.

“Alterity,” in The Cambridge Companion to Thomas Pynchon, ed. Inger Dalsgaard, Luc Herman & Brian McHale (Cambridge & New York: Cambridge University Press, 2012), pp. 146-155.

“Witch-Hunting: American Exceptionalism and Global Terrorism,” in American Exceptionalisms: From Winthrop to Winfrey, ed. Sylvia Soderlind & James Taylor Carson (Albany: SUNY Press, 2011), pp. 15-29.

“The Making of (Native) Americans: Suturing and Citizenship in the Scene of Education,” Parallax, special issue: Contours of Learning: On Spivak, 17. 3 (2011), pp. 32-45.

“Out of the Melting Pot, Into the Nationalist Fires: Native American Literary Studies in Europe,” American Indian Quarterly, 35. 3 (Summer 2011), pp. 353-371.

“Queering Cultural China: Performing Nation Through the Feminine Body,” Textual Practice, 25. 4 (August 2011), pp. 671-87.

“Louise Erdrich: The Aesthetics of Mino Bimaadiziwin,” in Louise Erdrich, ed. Deborah L. Madsen (London: Continuum, 2011), pp. 1-14.

“From Colony to Republic: Building the American Nation,” in Reading the Nation in English Literature, ed. Elizabeth Sauer & Julia Wright (London & New York: Routledge, 2010), pp. 175-85.

“Writing in the Fourth Person: A Lacanian Reading of Vizenor’s Pronouns,” in Gerald Vizenor: Texts and Contexts, ed. Deborah L. Madsen & A. Robert Lee (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2010), pp.130-151.

“American Allegory,” in The Cambridge Companion to Allegory, ed. Rita Copeland and Peter Struck (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010), pp. 229-40.

“The West and Manifest Destiny,” in Blackwell Companion to American Studies, ed. John Carlos Rowe (Oxford: Blackwell, 2010), pp. 369-86.

“Teaching Trauma: (Neo-)Slave Narratives and Cultural (Re-)Memory,” in Teaching African American Women's Writing, ed. Gina Wisker (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010), pp. 60-74.

“Travels in the Body: Technologies of Waste in Chinese Diaspora,” in China  Abroad: Travel, Spaces, Subjects, ed. Elaine Yee Lin Ho & Julia Kuehn  (Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 2009).

“On Subjectivity and Survivance:  Rereading Trauma Through The Heirs of Columbus and The Crown of Columbus," in Survivance: Narratives  of Native Presence,  ed. Gerald Vizenor (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2008), pp. 67-81.

“Thomas Pynchon and the Tradition of American Quest Romance," in Thomas Schaub (ed.), Approaches to Teaching Thomas Pynchon's The Crying of Lot 49 and Other Works (New York: MLA, 2008), pp. 25-30.

“No Place Like Home: The Ambivalent Rhetoric of Hospitality in the Work of Simone Lazaroo, Arlene Chai, and Hsu-Ming Teo,” Journal of Intercultural Studies 27. 1-2 (Feb-May, 2006), pp. 117-32.

“Transcendence through Violence: Women and the Martial Arts Motif in Recent American Fiction and Film,” Essays and Studies, ed. David Seed (Cambridge: Brewer, 2005), pp. 163-80. Italian translation by Federica Giardini, “Trascendenza e violenza. Donne e arti marziali nei film americani,” DWF: Donna woman femme, 82. 2 (2009), pp.18-24.

“Hawthorne’s Puritans: From Fact to Fiction,” Journal of American Studies, 33. 3 (1999), pp. 509-517.

“Family Legacies: Identifying the Traces of William Pynchon in Gravity’s Rainbow,” Pynchon Notes, 42-43 (Spring-Fall, 1998), pp. 29-48.

“Using Hypercard to Teach Contemporary Critical and Cultural Theory,” in Randy Bass & Jeff Finlay (eds.), So What Can I Do With It: A Practical Guide for Using Technology in Teaching American Culture (American Studies Association, Crossroads Project).

“(Dis)figuration: The Body as Icon in the Writings of Maxine Hong Kingston,” The Yearbook of English Studies, vol.24 (1994), pp.237-50.

“The Sword or the Scroll: The Power of Rhetoric in Colonial New England,” American Studies, vol.33 no.1 (Spring 1992), pp.45-61. Winner of the 1993 Stone-Suderman Prize awarded by the Mid-America American Studies Association.

“‘A for Abolition’: Hawthorne’s Bond-servant and the Shadow of Slavery,” Journal of American Studies, vol.25 no.2 (August 1991), pp.255-59.

“The Romance of the New World,” Journal of American Studies, vol.24 no.1 (April 1990), pp.99-108.

“Hawthorne’s Post-Platonic Paradise: The Inversion of Allegory in ‘Rappaccini’s Daughter,’ “ The Journal of Narrative Technique, vol.18 no.2 (Spring 1988), pp.153-169.

“The Paradox of the Transcendental Trope: Intertextuality or the Allegory of Giles Goat-Boy,” Southern Review: Literary and Interdisciplinary Essays, vol.20 no.3 (November 1987), pp.240-257.

Forthcoming / A paraître

with Bryn Skibo. “Indigeneity.” In The Encyclopedia of Contemporary American Fiction. Ed. Stephen Burn, Lesley Larkin & Patrick O'Donnell. New York & Oxford: Wiley Blackwell. In press.

“American Allegory.” In The Oxford Handbook of Allegory. Ed. David Parry. Oxford: Oxford University Press.


American Literature