Location: Bowdoin / Elizabeth Muther


Elizabeth Muther

Associate Professor of English

Contact Information


Massachusetts Hall - 303

Teaching this semester

AFRS 2603/ENGL 2603. African American Fiction: Humor and Resistance

Explores rich traditions of African American humor in fiction, comics, graphic narratives, and film. Considers strategies of cultural survival and liberation, as well as folkloric sources, trickster storytellers, comic double-voicing, and the lampooning of racial ideologies. Close attention paid to modes of burlesque, satirical deformation, caricature, tragicomedy, and parody in historical and contemporary contexts, including such writers and performers as Charles Chesnutt, Bert Williams, Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, Richard Pryor, Ishmael Reed, Aaron McGruder, Dave Chappelle, and Suzan-Lori Parks.

ENGL 2003. Trolls, Frogs, and Princesses: Fairy Tales and Retellings

Intermediate seminar. Explores the resiliency of fairy tales across cultural boundaries and historical time. Traces the genealogical origins of the classic tales, as well as their metamorphoses in historical and contemporary variants, fractured tales, and adaptations in literature and film. Engages a spectrum of related texts in literary and cultural theory and criticism.

Teaching next semester

ENGL 2804/ENVS 2804. Maine Writers and the Environment

Explores the wild and diverse literary territories of the state of Maine-past and present-with a focus on coastal narratives and environmental writing. Considers Maine's multi-ethnic folkways, its austere modernisms, remorseless gothic landscapes, natural splendors and antagonisms, coastal rhapsodies and adversities, and contemporary environmental imperatives. Includes poetry, short stories, novels, memoirs, personal narratives, children's literature, nature writing, and environmental advocacy by such writers as Thoreau, Jewett, Robinson, Millay, Beston, Carson, McCloskey, King, Russo, Strout, and Bryan. Taught in residence at the Bowdoin Coastal Studies Center. English 2804/Environmental Studies 2804 is a course-module in the Bowdoin Marine Science Semester. Biology 2232 (same as Environmental Studies 2232), Biology 2330 (same as Environmental Studies 2233), and Biology 2501 (same as Environmental Studies 2231) are co-requisites of this course.

Elizabeth Muther


  • B.A., Wellesley College
  • Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley


Elizabeth Muther works in 20th and 21st century American and African American literatures with teaching and research interests in humor theory, visual culture studies, poetry, and children’s literature.  She has developed a cluster of courses that approach literary texts through theoretical and historical engagements with visual culture: “African American Literature and Visual Culture,” “Of Comics and Culture” (on graphic narratives and sequential art), “African American Children’s Literature,” “The Harlem Renaissance,” and “African American Film.”  She recently co-curated an exhibition at the Bowdoin Museum of Art entitled “Letters and Shadows: African American Art and Literature” that was linked to one of these courses. Her current book project, Shadow Dancing: Racial Doubles in Performance, explores the problems of racial mimicry and of shadow figures in American expressive culture.