Visit us on Facebook
You are here: Home People Directory Margaret W. Ferguson
Margaret W.  Ferguson
Document Actions

Margaret W. Ferguson

  • Distinguished Professor of English, UC Davis
265 Voorhies
Davis, Ca Office Hours: M 3:30-4:30; W 2-3 and by appt.
Phone: (530) 752-1160


Margaret Ferguson is President of the Modern Language Association this year; she has chosen "Negotiating Sites of Memory" as the theme for the MLA Convention in Vancouver, B.C., in 2015 (Jan. 8-11): For her welcome letter and her MLA Spring Newsletter column on "The MLA, The Goose, and the Commons," see; for her Summer Newsletter column on "The MLA and the Common Core State Curriculum Initiative," see; and for her Fall column on "Negotiating Sites of Memory in Vancouver,"  see

She joined the UC Davis faculty in 1997. Before coming to Davis, she taught at Yale, Columbia, and the University of Colorado at Boulder. She has held visiting professorships at UC Berkeley and Middlebury College (The Bread Loaf School of English). Her areas of interest include Renaissance literature, literacy studies, and feminist theory; she has published extensively on these topics. Currently, she is a member of the advisory boards for Boundary 2: A Journal of Postmodern Literature, Differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies, Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies, Comparative Literature Studies, and Modern Language Quarterly.  She has served on many committees of the Modern Language Association, including the Executive Committee, the PMLA committee, the translation prize committee, the Elections Committee, and the Executive Committee for the Division of 17th C. British Literature. She was elected second vice president of the MLA in 2012 and is currently serving as President.   Her MLA projects include co-chairing, with current President Marianne Hirsch, a Working Group which revised the intellectual structure of the Association; the new structure will be implemented in 2016. She chairs the planning subcommittee of the MLA Executive Council on "K-16 Education." A member of the National Council of Teachers of English, she is particularly interested in how the Common Core Standards that have been adopted by 45 state legislatures will affect the work of those who teach writing and reading at the secondary and tertiary levels. 

She was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2014.

She has been a member of the executive board of the Renaissance Society of America and has served as a trustee of the Shakespeare Association of America. She received teaching awards at Yale and the University of Colorado and an Outstanding Graduate Mentor Award at the University of California, Davis.  She  chaired the UC Davis English Department from 2006 to 2009; during that time she helped to hire nine new colleagues.  She has won fellowships from the NEH, the Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, and, most recently, from the American Council of Learned Societies. Her current book project is on "Cultural Debates About Hymens in Early Modern England, with an opening chapter on ancient Greek and Hebrew concepts of "virginity" and an epilogue on the modern surgical practice of "hymenoplasty."  She is the co-director with Gina Bloom  of the Mellon Research Initiative in Early Modern Studies.  This spring she taught English 122, Milton's poetry and prose; in the fall, she is teaching English 232, a graduate seminar on "Gender, Genre, and Sexuality in Early Modern English Literature."

Recent Presentations: "The Humanities and the Common Good," Provost's Forum on "The Humanities and the Public Good" (April  2014); "What's an English Major Good For?", contribution to a conference at the University of Tulsa (March 2014); "Home-Schooling Bianca and Katherine," lecture at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (August 2013); "Feigning Hymens" (Plenary talk, Shakespeare Association of America, March 2013); "Period," presentation for an MLA Forum on the 21st Century MLA (January 2013).

Publication Spotlights

  • "Fatal Cleopatras and Golden Apples:  Economies of Wordplay in Some Shakespearean 'Numbers,'" The Oxford Handbook of Shakespeare's Poetry, ed. Jonathan Post (Oxford: OUP, 2013): 77-94.
  • "The Letter of Recommendation as Strange Work," PMLA, 127:4 (October 2012): 954-62. 
  • "On Old Periods and New Comparative Literatures/ De Periodos Antiguos y Nuevas Literaturas Comparadas," Interview/Entrevista with Margaret Ferguson, by Bélén Bistué, Boletín de Literatura Comparada 37 (2012): 137-58.
  • "Syntax, Poetic." The Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics, 4th ed. Ed. Roland Greene et. al. Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, 2012: 1401-07.
  • "Translation, Hospitality, and Homeland Insecurity: Reflections on Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew," under submission in a volume of essays drawn from a Folger Shakespeare Library conference (March 2011) on"Early Modern Translation: Theory, History, Practice."

Selected PublicationsFerguson Book

  •  Dido's Daughters: Literacy,Gender, and Empire in Early Modern England and   France. University of Chicago Press, 2003.

Dido's Daughters is the winner of the Roland Bainton Prize for Sixteenth Century Studies (2004), the Society for the Study of Early Modern Women Prize (2004) and Honorable Mentions for the American Comparative Literature Association's Réné Wellek Prize (2004) and the Renaissance Society of America's Phyllis Goodheart Gordan Book Prize (2004).

Margaret Ferguson Book 2010

  • "Du Bellay's 'Source de Méduse." Laureations: Essays in Memory of Richard Helgerson. Wilmington: University of Delaware Press, 2012, 205-26.
  •  Teaching Early Modern Prose. Ed. Susannah Brietz-Monta and Margaret W. Ferguson. Modern Language Association of America, 2010.

  • "Conning the Overseers: Women's Illicit Work in Behn's 'The Black Lady.'" In Early Modern Culture: An Electronic Seminar, Issue 5 (Spring 2006):
  • The Norton Anthology of Poetry. 5th ed. Ed. Margaret Ferguson, Mary Jo Salter and Jon Stallworthy. New York: W. W. Norton, 2005. Essay on "Poetic Syntax" by M. Ferguson, 2053-74.
  • Women, Poetry, and the Letters of the Law in Early Modern England. Ed.  Nancy Wright, Margaret Ferguson, and Andrew Buck. Toronto: The University of Toronto Press, 2004.
  • Feminism in Time. Ed. Margaret Ferguson and Marshall Brown. Spec. iss. of Modern Language Quarterly 65.1 (March 2004). Introduction by M. Ferguson, 7-27.
  • Literacies in Early Modern England. Ed. Margaret Ferguson and Eve Sanders. Special issue of Critical Survey 14.1 (2002). Editors' introduction, 1-8.
  • Cary, Elizabeth. The Tragedy of Mariam, Faire Queen of Jewry (1613) and The Lady Falkland: Her Life.  Ed. Barry Weller and Margaret Ferguson. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994.  Introduction, 1-59.
  • "Moderation and Its Discontents: Recent Work on Renaissance Women," Review Essay, Feminist Studies (Summer 1994):349-66.
  • Postmodernism and Feminism. Ed. Margaret Ferguson and Jennifer Wicke. Special issue of Boundary 2 (Summer 1992). Reissued in expanded form as a book by Duke University Press, 1994.
  • Rewriting the Renaissance: The Discourse of Sexual Difference in Early Modern Europe. Ed. Margaret Ferguson, Maureen Quilligan, and Nancy Vickers. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1986. Introduction, xv-xxxi.
  • "1549: An Offensive Defense for a New Intellectual Elite," in The Harvard History of French Literature. Ed. Denis Hollier. Cambridge: Harvard Univ. Press, 1989,  194-98
  •  "Hamlet: Letters and Spirits," in Shakespeare and the Question of Theory. Ed. Patricia Parker and Geoffrey Hartman. New York and London: Methuen Press, 1985, 212-38. Reprinted in Hamlet: New Critical Views, ed. David Kastan. New York: G.K. Hall, 1995; and in Hamlet: A Norton Critical Edition, 2nd ed. Cyrus Hoy, 1992.
  • Trials of Desire: Renaissance Defenses of Poetry. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1983.
  • Conning the Overseers
  • The Tragedy of Miriam                     Cover Image
  • Margaret Ferguson's "Welcome Letter" to the MLA (2014)
  • Column on "The MLA, The Goose, and the Commons"

  • Email:

Education & Interests:

  1. Ph.D., Comparative Literature, Yale University, 1974
  2. M.Phil., Comparative Literature, Yale University, 1972
  3. A.B., History of Art and English, Cornell University, 1969
  4. Interests: Renaissance women writers, Milton, Shakespeare, Feminist Theory, Literacy Studies

Powered by Plone CMS, the Open Source Content Management System

This site conforms to the following standards:

Personal tools