Visiting Assistant Professor of English
Specialties: American Literature, African American Literature, Performance Studies, Sound Studies, Popular Music
Degrees: BA, Oberlin College; MFA, Columbia University; PhD, Princeton University
Sara Marcus teaches and conducts research about American literature and culture—including popular music and visual art—focusing on the period from the mid–19th century through the present day, with special attention to gender, sexuality, race, and sound and performance studies. Her first book, Girls to the Front, a critical and cultural history of the 1990s punk movement Riot Grrrl, was published by Harper Perennial in 2010 and was a National Award for Arts Writing finalist.
Dr. Marcus’s current book project, Political Disappointment: A Partial History of a Feeling, tracks political disappointment through 20th-century American cultural practices, with an emphasis on literature and sound. Spanning the fields of literary scholarship, sound studies, history, political philosophy, and cultural criticism, Marcus argues that political desires in their disappointed mode do important work in processing unwelcome political change and developing new concepts. Political Disappointment thus goes beyond existing debates over utopianism and pessimism to reclaim disappointment as a generative force in American life and literature. The project includes discussions of W.E.B. Du Bois, Tillie Olsen, Leadbelly, Stokely Carmichael, Hortense Spillers, Audre Lorde, and Adrienne Rich.
Dr. Marcus is the author of an article about Charles Chesnutt that is forthcoming in the journal American Literature. In addition, her essays and criticism on art, music, literature, and politics have recently appeared in critical venues such as Artforum, Bookforum, and Texte zur Kunst; mainstream publications including The New Republic, the Los Angeles Times, and CNN.com; academic-adjacent forums such as Public Books, Post45, and the Los Angeles Review of Books; and in the books The Idea of the Avant-Garde (Manchester University Press, 2014), The Essential Ellen Willis (University of Minnesota Press, 2014), and No Regrets (n+1, 2014).