Professor of American Literature and Culture


University of Geneva



Deborah Madsen is Professor of American Studies and Director of the Department of English Language and Literature at the University of Geneva. Her work focuses on issues of settler-nationalism, indigeneity, and migration, exemplified by her work on American Exceptionalism and the white supremacist ideology of Manifest Destiny. Her most recent books include the edited collections, Native Authenticity: Transatlantic Approaches to Native American Literature (SUNY Press 2010) and Louise Erdrich (Continuum, 2012). She is immediate past President of the Swiss Association for North American Studies (SANAS), and has served on the Editorial Board of the Encyclopedia of American Studies (published by Johns Hopkins University Press for the American Studies Association), and on the Editorial Advisory Committee of PMLA (Publications of the Modern Language Association of America). She has held visiting appointments at the Universities of Cape Town, Adelaide, and Cambridge, and is an honorary life member of Clare Hall, Cambridge.


Current work includes “The Exceptional Power of Bones in Heid E. Erdrich’s National Monuments,” an analysis of Erdrich’s poetic engagement with the subversive relation between indigenous human remains and the ideology of American Exceptionalism through the Anishinaabe philosophy of bimaadiziwin; and an essay on Leslie Marmon Silko’s novel Almanac of the Dead that traces Silko’s indigenous interpretation of Freud’s concept of the “memory trace” through her use of free indirect narrative style (forthcoming in David L. Moore, ed. Leslie Marmon Silko. Bloomsbury Studies in Contemporary North American Fiction). She also has an essay, “The Sovereignty of Transmotion in a State of Exception: Lessons from the Internment of ‘Praying Indians’ on Deer Island, Massachusetts Bay Colony, 1675-1676,” forthcoming in the inaugural issue of the new online peer-reviewed journal of Indigenous Studies, Transmotion.

She is currently editing the Routledge Companion to Native American Literature (scheduled for publication in 2015).


She has published extensively on Chinese immigration, particularly in relation to Australia, Canada, and the United States, including the book Diasporic Histories: Archives of Chinese Transnationalism (co-ed. Hong Kong University Press 2009).


She has a pedagogical interest in digital humanities and e-learning, and has published widely on developments in this field.


Proposals from prospective PhD students are invited in the following areas: Native American and comparative indigenous studies; literature and US nationalism; cultural approaches to migration and transnationalism; gender theory and contemporary cultural body imagery.



Mémoire (MA Thesis) and Graduate Supervision



The Geneva Doctoral Skills Workshop in Modern and Contemporary English Literature





Details of current courses are available at




2011-2012 Course Information

2010-2011 Course Information

2009-2010 Course Information

2008-2009 Course Information

2007-2008 Course Information

2006-2007Course Information

2005-2006Course Information

2004-2005 Course Information

2003-2004 Course Information

2002-2003 Course Information





Full-texts of recent unpublished essays and lectures

Sample chapters from published books