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Margaret Ferguson was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2014 and also served that year as President of the Modern Language Association. As immediate Past President, she is chairing a MLA Working Group on K-16 Educational Alliances, which focuses on creating and /or supporting partnerships between college teachers of writing, literature, and language and teachers of these subjects in elementary and secondary schools. The K-16 Working Group sponsored a round-table session at the 2016 MLA Convention in Austin, Texas, to discuss current projects led by several Working Group members, and will sponsor a session at next year's National Council of Teachers of English Convention (in Atlanta, GA) on "Continuing the Conversation: What is Good College Writing?"
Ferguson joined the UC Davis English Department in 1997. She received her doctorate from the Yale Department of Comparative Literature in 1974, and taught at Yale, Columbia, and the University of Colorado at Boulder before moving to UC Davis. She has held visiting professorships at UC Berkeley and Middlebury College (The Bread Loaf School of English). Her areas of interest include Early Modern literature, literacy studies, and feminist theory in English, French, and Italian. 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 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. Before her term as an officer of the MLA (Jan. 2012 to Jan 2015), she was a member of the PMLA Editorial Board, the translation prize committee, the Elections Committee, and the Executive Committee for the Division of 17th C. British Literature. 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. In November, 2015, she chaired a MLA-sponsored session on "What is College Reading?" at the NCTE Convention in Minneapolis.
Ferguson received the Award for Distinguished Graduate Teaching from the UCDavis Academic Senate in 2014; in 2008, she received an Outstanding Graduate Mentor Award from the UCDavis Consortium for Research on Women and Gender. She received awards for undergraduate teaching at Yale and the University of Colorado. She teaches undergraduate courses on Shakespeare, Milton, and early modern women's writing as well as an introductory course for prospective English majors on "Literatures in English to 1700." In 2015, she led the Honors Seminar for English majors preparing to write a senior thesis; she is leading this seminar in Winter 2016 as well. Last fall, she taught for the first time an upper-division course on "Grammar: Language and Power" that was cross listed by the departments of English and Linguistics, and by the University Writing Program. At the graduate level, she has recently taught seminars on "Gender and Sexuality in Early Modern English Literature," "Questions of Authority: Spenser, Lanyer, and Milton"; and "Travel Literature and Utopian Texts."
From 2006 to 2009, she chaired the English Department and helped hire nine new colleagues. With Frances Dolan, Director of Undergraduate Studies, she facilitated a substantial revision of the undergraduate curriculum.
She has won fellowships from the NEH, the Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the Davis Humanities Institute. She received the UCDavis Academic Senate's Research Lecturer Award in 2011 and delivered a lecture from her book in progress, entitled "Mythologies of Hymen: A Contested Sign" in connection with that award. She also presented three lectures drawn from that project as the Ward Phillips Lecturer at Notre Dame University and has led workshops on her research at Brown University and Syracuse University. The book analyzes early modern debates about Hymen, the ancient Greek god of marriage, and about the "hymen" as a dubious somatic sign of female sexual purity in various times and places. A final chapter considers early modern figurations of Hymen and hymens in relation to modern surgical practices advertised as "hymenoplasties" and performed around the world today.
"Professional Organizations and Advocacy: The Case of the MLA," Ray Smith Symposium Syracuse University (Nov. 2015, http://asnews.syr.edu/newsevents_2015/releases/ray_smith_symposium_fergu...)
MLA Presidential Address, "Negotiating Sites of Memory" (Vancouver, B.C., January 2015)
"The Humanities and the Common Good," Provost's Forum on "The Humanities and the Public Good" (April 2014, presentation begins at 55:00)
"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).
"Negotiating Sites of Memory." PMLA 130.3 (May 2015): 546-565.
"Translation and Homeland Insecurity in Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew: An Experiment in Unsafe Reading." Early Modern Cultures of Translation. Eds. Karen Newman and Jane Tylus. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2015. 117-152.
"Fatal Cleopatras and Golden Apples: Economies of Wordplay in Some Shakespearean 'Numbers.'" The Oxford Handbook of Shakespeare's Poetry. Ed. Jonathan Post, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 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.
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).
"Du Bellay's 'Source de Méduse." Laureations: Essays in Memory of Richard Helgerson. Wilmington: University of Delaware Press, 2012, 205-26.
"Hymeneal Instruction." Masculinities, Childhood, Violence: Attending to Early Modern Women--And Men Proceedings of the 2006 Symposium. Eds. Amy E. Leonard and Karen L. Nelson. Newark: University of Delaware Press, 2011. 97-129.
"Thomas Nashe: Cornucopias and Gallimaufries of Prose." Teaching Early Modern Prose. Eds. Susannah Brietz-Monta and Margaret W. Ferguson. Modern Language Assoication of America, 2010. 199-213.
Teaching Early Modern Prose. Ed. Susannah Brietz-Monta and Margaret W. Ferguson. Modern Language Association of America, 2010.
"'With All Due Reverence and Respect to the Word of God': Aphra Behn as Skeptical Reader of the Bible and Critical Translator of Fontenelle." Reading Women: Literacy, Authorship, and Culture in the Atlantic World, 1500-1800. Eds. Heidi Brayman Hackel and Catherine E. Kelly. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008. 199-216.
"Conning the Overseers: Women's Illicit Work in Behn's 'The Black Lady.'" In Early Modern Culture: An Electronic Seminar, Issue 5 (Spring 2006)
Women, Property, and the Letters of the Law in Early Modern England. Eds. Nancy E. Wright, Margaret W. Ferguson, and Andrew Buck. Toronto: The University of Toronto Press, 2004.
"Literacies in Early Modern England." Introduction by Eve Rachele Sanders and M. Ferguson. Literacies in Early Modern England. Ed. Margaret Ferguson and Eve Sanders. Special issue of Critical Survey 14.1 (2002).1-8.
"Come Tell Me How You Live." PMLA, 115:5 (October 2000): 1246-50.
"The Authorial Ciphers of Aphra Behn." The Cambridge Companion to English Literature 1650-1740. Ed. Steven N. Zwicker. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998. 225-249.
"Feathers and flies: Aphra Behn and the seventeenth-century trade in exotica." Subject and Object in Renaissance Culture. Eds. Margareta de Grazia, Maureen Quilligan, and Peter Stallybrass. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996. 235-259.
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.
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.
Feminism and Postmodernism. 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.
"Saint Augustine's Region of Unlikeness: The Crossing of Exile and Language." Innovations of Antiquity. Eds. Ralph Hexter and Daniel Selden. New York: Routledge, 1992. 69-94.
"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.
Margaret Ferguson's "Welcome Letter" to the MLA (2014)
MLA President's Column on "The Common, The Goose, and the MLA"
Education & Interests:
- Ph.D., Comparative Literature, Yale University, 1974
- M.Phil., Comparative Literature, Yale University, 1972
- A.B., History of Art and English, Cornell University, 1969
- Interests: Renaissance women writers, Milton, Shakespeare, Feminist Theory, Literacy Studies; Common Core and Pedagogical Alliances between primary, secondary, and tertiary level teachers of languages and literatures