HAI Graduate Fellow
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.