Anna Mukamal

M.A., English, Stanford University, 2019
B.A., English and Spanish, Duke University, 2017
Graduation Year
Dissertation Title
The Therapeutic Encounter
Anna Mukamal

Anna Mukamal is a PhD candidate in English at Stanford University. Her dissertation, The Therapeutic Encounter, explores the relationship between 20th century literature and the therapeutic culture that emerges from the new psychotherapy at the turn of the century. Integrating feminist and critical race studies with new formalism, literary sociology, narrative medicine, and digital humanities, her work reinterprets our narrative of 20th century literary history from modernism to the contemporary by stressing writing as a form of psychotherapy itself, and by linking this therapeutic practice to the spaces in which it is produced. Situating the transhistorical therapeutic encounter as an essential context for ushering marginalized groups into the literary sphere, Anna destabilizes the dominant critical narrative that reading is only therapeutic when delimited to certain genres, classes, and gender groups. Instead, she demonstrates that contemporary reading practices, inflected by the therapeutic culture we’ve inherited, evoke the protocols of therapy—an ethically ambiguous phenomenon for which literary critics must account.

Anna has worked as Project Manager for the Modernist Archives Publishing Project and collaborates with the Stanford Literary Lab. She serves the university as English Graduate Student Council Co-Chair; departmental representative on Stanford’s interdepartmental Wellness Information Network for Graduate Students; English undergraduate Honors Thesis Mentor; and Graduate Fellow at Ng Humanities House, where she oversees undergraduate-led extracurricular workshops and co-directs a reading group about activism against sexual violence. Her Writing Intensive Seminar in English (WISE) course as instructor of record, “Mental Health and Literature, Midcentury to Present,” historically contextualizes the contemporary mental health crisis in higher education, exploring how literature both responds to and shapes the would-be binary between mental illness and mental health. Anna has presented or will present at the Modernist Studies Association Conference, the Louisville Conference for Literature and Culture Since 1900, the Modern Languages Association Conference, The Madwoman and the Institution Conference, the Duke-Stanford Philosophy & Literature Conference, and the Consortium for Humanities Centers and Institutes Health and Medical Humanities Network Conference. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Digital Studies/Le champ numérique, Synapsis: a health humanities journal, The Cambridge Companion to Literature in the Digital Age, The Edinburgh Companion to Women in Publishing: 1900-2000, and The Cambridge Companion to the American Short Story. She is the recipient of the 2018 Andrew Smith Memorial Essay Prize, a 2019 Centennial Teaching Assistant Award, and a 2020-21 G. J. Pigott Scholars Program Award.