Molly Becker, Downing

Degree: PhD
Course: AmLit
Supervisor: Dr Kasia Boddy
Dissertation Title: Becoming America's Heartland: The Effect of Midwestern Regionalist Fiction on American National Identity

Biographical Information

I graduated from the University of Chicago in 2017 with a BA in Interdisciplinary Studies in the Humanities, with focuses in English literature, linguistics, and geography. I then completed an MPhil in American Literature at the University of Cambridge. My MPhil dissertation examined Indiana author Booth Tarkington's Growth trilogy, exploring the way Tarkington constructs a Midwestern American identity through language in these novels and his position in literary history in relation to the rise of modernism. 

Research Interests

My current research deals with the relationship between the rural Midwest, language, and American culture and identity in the early twentieth century through the lens of Midwestern authors such as Ruth Suckow, Zona Gale, Edward Eggleston, and Sinclair Lewis. I am particularly interested in the development of American English, and in how Midwestern authors from this time period were using language closely associated with the United States in their work to establish a national identity for the region. 

Areas of Supervision

Practical Criticism; Modernism and the Short Story; Contemporary Writing in English; and American Literature. 

I have taught classes on specific topics including Dialect; Cultural Identity and Language Politics in Fiction; the Declaration of Independence; Emily Dickinson; and Seamus Heaney. 

I am currently supervising a Part I dissertation on F. Scott Fitzgerald. 

I am interested in supervising these subjects and any others relevant to my areas of interest.