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Photo of Elisabeth McClanahan


2019, MA English, George Washington University

2012, BA Humanities, Columbia International University


Elisabeth studies 19th century American literature and medicine, focusing on how changing theories of mental illness and its treatment were encoded in congregate care institutions over the course of the century. Her research, which draws on a varied archive of patient memoirs, journalistic exposes, and fictional depictions of congregate care, investigates entanglements of race, gender, and disability in questions of mental healthcare.


“Conversion and Countermemory: Jarena Lee, Maria Stewart, and the Spiritual Motherhood of Mary Magdalene.” Nineteenth-Century American Women Writers and Theologies of the Afterlife: A Step Closer to Heaven, edited by Emily Hamilton-Honey and Jennifer McFarlane Harris, Routledge, 2021.


  • Robert Bain Award for scholarship in American Literature, UNC English Department, 2021
  • Southern Futures Graduate Award, 2020
  • McCandlish Endowment Fellowship, 2017-2019
  • PEO Continuing Education Grant, 2018