Texas Tech University

2020-21 Post-Doctoral Fellow

The Humanities Center Welcomes Post-Doctoral Fellow, Katie Magaña!

post doc 2020The Humanities Center asks you to join us welcoming Dr. Katie Magaña as our inaugural Post-Doctoral Fellow in the Humanities for 2020-2021.

Dr. Magaña graduated with her PhD in English Literature in 2019 from Victoria University of Wellington (Wellington, New Zealand) where she held the Victoria Doctoral Scholarship. Katie was a tutor at VUW in classes such as "The Novel" and "Children's Fantasy." In January 2020, she was accepted as an Associate Fellow in the Higher Education of the UK. Her undergraduate degrees and MA were completed at Northwestern State University (Natchitoches, LA). She has taught composition and introductory literature courses online for NSU as an adjunct instructor since 2018. She currently has articles under consideration with two journals and has presented at conferences in the United States and New Zealand. A native of Louisiana, people often ask Katie if she thinks her interest in the strange and supernatural in literature is as innate to being a New Orleanian as her use of the word "y'all."

Katie's research will examine the depiction of curses in fiction and the representation of the effects as real and medical in fin de siècle, popular British literature. In the nineteenth century, scientists explored the possibility of proving the supernatural through emerging sciences, most of which are now considered pseudo-sciences. Popular authors relied on their contemporary science to legitimize fantastic claims and drive the story, even in strange fiction. Twenty-first century readers too often discount the claims due to an anachronistic view of earlier sciences. Fictional curses are unique amongst supernatural claims to lost sciences in that the results are normally depicted as medical, and sometimes as occurring years after the initiating factor. Consider, for example, the anxiety and physical symptoms that Lessingham experiences in London years after he encounters a cult in Egypt in Richard Marsh's The Beetle (1897). What of these symptoms were tied to a medical condition? Does the curse cause something specific? This examination of curses and medicine is part of a larger project on the intersection of science and the supernatural.