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By Rose Steptoe

Meet one of ECL’s newest faculty members, Stephanie DeGooyer. Professor DeGooyer specializes in intersections of law and literature with interests in immigration, and health and medical humanities. Her forthcoming book Acts of Naturalization is slated for publication in 2022, with other works also in progress. Professor DeGooyer previously held an assistant professorship at both Harvard and Willamette Universities and was a 2020-2021 ACLS Burkhardt Fellow at UCLA. Read on to get to know Professor DeGooyer with us!


What about UNC are you most excited about? 

The people. Long before my official start date, many faculty and students reached out to me to make me feel welcome. The community here is incredible.

I am also excited about the interdisciplinary nature of the ECL department. For example, I am planning to teach a Health and Humanities seminar on the history of disease and colonialism next year. I have already made several connections with faculty in history and law, as well as my outstanding colleagues in ECL.


What is a project you’re currently working on? 

I’m in the final stages of completing a book on the legal and fictional history of naturalization, which will be out in early 2022. I am currently working on two other book projects: the first is tentatively called “Health Nativism,” which is the title of an article I co-wrote with an infectious diseases doctor at the beginning of the pandemic. Expanding on this concept, I return to eighteenth-century fictional and historical archives to think about the longer histories of disease control and colonialism. I am also co-editing a volume on the history of the novel, which will feature over 50 articles on the global history of the novel, past, present and future. I also have a few public articles in the mix (I know you asked for one project, but I am never working on just one thing!).


How has remote teaching/learning/researching changed your relationship with academia and how you approach your job?

I was teaching at Harvard when the pandemic first upended classrooms. After that, I was on fellowship for a year (remotely) at UCLA. So I have done very little remote teaching outside of the emergency mode of the first months of the pandemic. What I can say, though, is that these experiences have made me value in-person learning and archival research like never before. I will never take a classroom or musty archive for granted again. My respect for librarians was massively deepened this past year.  If not for the librarians who helped me find digital copies of research materials, I could not have completed my book.


What is a literary work that you return to most often? 

It’s a tie between Robinson Crusoe and Frankenstein. I’ve written about both of these novels, and I turn to them often in my teaching. Robinson Crusoe is a narrative about global capitalism, trade, and migration; I always find something new when I read it. Shelley’s story of an unnamed creature who is universally spurned has been useful for teaching ideas about immigration. The creature demonstrates the predicament of so many migrants today: he cannot be recognized as a subject anywhere and has no native land to which he can return. I have a chapter in my book about the significance of the fact that, in the 1831 edition of the novel,  Shelley changes Victor Frankenstein’s biography to make him a naturalized foreigner in Geneva.


What is a fun fact about you?

I’m Canadian!


Join us in extending a warm welcome to Dr. DeGooyer!



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