Don James McLaughlin

Don James McLaughlin
Assistant Professor of English
College of Arts & Sciences
English Language and Literature
918-631-2812 Zink Hall Room 365


PhD – University of Pennsylvania MA – Villanova University BA – Harding University


Don James McLaughlin is an Assistant Professor of 19th-Century American Literature at the University of Tulsa. He is also the 2018-19 Hench Post-Dissertation Fellow at the American Antiquarian Society. Don James holds a Ph.D. in English from the University of Pennsylvania and an MA from Villanova University. His dissertation, “Infectious Affect: The Phobic Imagination in American Literature,” was awarded the 2018 Diane Hunter Prize for Best Dissertation in the English Department at Penn. Completed under the direction of Heather Love (Chair) and Max Cavitch (Co-chair), Infectious Affect traces the emergence of the -phobia suffix in American print culture as a medical diagnosis, political metaphor, and aesthetic sensation in the 18th and 19th centuries. Don James is currently converting his dissertation into a book, and will publish two articles excerpted from the project in the spring of 2019, in Literature and Medicine and J19: The Journal of 19th-Century Americanists. In and beyond this research, Don James’s scholarship focuses on 18th- and 19th-century literary movements in the Americas; LGBTQ historiography; the medical humanities; critical race theory; and the history of emotions. While a doctoral candidate in 2014, he had the privilege of collaborating with Connie King, Curator of Women's History at the Library Company of Philadelphia, on an exhibit titled "That's So Gay: Outing Early America." The show documented various instances of queer life in early America across an array of materials at LCP, from rare books to bawdy stereographs, comic valentines, and other ephemera. Research for his dissertation and first book has been supported by the Penn Humanities Forum, American Antiquarian Society, and Marguerite Bartlett Hamer Dissertation Fellowship at the McNeil Center for Early American Studies. His essay “Color-Phobia: Rabies, Blackness, and the Mad Cry of Analogy in U.S. Antislavery Literature” was awarded the 2014 William Patrick Day Essay Prize for best essay submitted by a graduate student in English at Penn. Don James was the recipient of a Dean’s Award for Distinguished Teaching at Penn in 2013. His writing has appeared in American Literature, Legacy: A Journal of American Women Writers, Legacies: The Magazine of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Public Books, and The New Republic.

Research Interests

Intersections between the history of psychiatry and American progressivism; philologies of antiracist activism; Walt Whitman and disability aesthetics; LGBTQ historiography; sexology and the origins of conversion therapy

Teaching Interests

19th-century literary movements in the Americas; the medical humanities and disability studies; queer theory and queer of color critique; affect theory and the history of emotions

Courses Taught

  • 19th-Century American Texts and Contexts
  • 19th Century American Literature
  • Reading Major American Writers

Professional Affiliations

  • Modern Language Association
  • Society for the History of Emotions
  • Society for Early Americanists
  • C19: The Association of 19th Century Americanists
  • Charlotte Cushman Society, Library Company of Philadelphia
  • American Studies Association

Awards & Honors

  • Dean’s Award for Distinguished Teaching by a Graduate Student
  • William Patrick Day Essay Prize
  • Dissertation Research Fellowship (Year on Color)
  • Marguerite Bartlett Hamer Dissertation Fellowship
  • Dissertation Research Fellowship
  • Critical Writing Fellowship in Teaching Excellence
  • Research Associate Fellowship
  • Diane Hunter Prize for Best Dissertation
  • Hench Post-Dissertation Fellowship