MaryEllen Higgins, Ph.D.

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Associate Professor, English
Affiliate Faculty, Rock Ethics Institute
Executive Committee Member, Teaching International
Undergraduate Research Coordinator
Main Building, 203
Penn State Greater Allegheny, 4000 University Drive, McKeesport, PA 15132

MaryEllen (Ellie) Higgins teaches comparative literature, cinema studies, and writing at the Pennsylvania State University, Greater Allegheny. Her books include The Western in the Global South (co-edited with Rita Kerestezi and Dayna Oscherwitz, Routledge), Hollywood’s Africa After 1994 (Ohio University Press), and the Historical Dictionary of French Cinema (with Dayna Oscherwitz, Scarecrow Press). She has published articles in Research in African Literatures, African Literature Today, African Studies Review, Tydskrif vir Letterkunde, and Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature, among other scholarly venues. She is an executive producer of Kivu Ruhorahoza's film, Europa: Based on a True Story (2019), and associate producer of two films by Jean-Pierre Bekolo: Mudimbe’s Order of Things (2015) and Naked Reality (2016). Her next project is a book on the expansion of the terms of trauma in African cinema. In 2020, she received a George W. Atherton Award for Excellence in Teaching!

Teaching Interests:
African cinema and literature, memoir writing, trauma studies, writing and human rights


African cinema, international trauma studies, curatorial approaches to film, memoir writing

"J.M. Coetzee’s UnMooring of the Western." In David Rio, Marek Paryz, and Christopher Conway (Eds.), The Literary Western in the Global Imagination. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, in press.

“The Ghostly Matter of Asylum in Kivu Ruhorahoza’s A Tree Has Fallen.” Tydskrif vir Letterkunde, 56(1), University of Pretoria, 2019.

Executive Producer, Europa: Based on a True Story, directed by Kivu Ruhorahoza, 2019.

“Speculative Migration and the Project of Futurity in Sylvestre Amoussou's Africa Paradis.” In Cajetan Iheka and Jack Taylor (Eds.), African Migration Narratives: Politics, Race, and Space. Rochester: University of Rochester Press, 2018.

“At the Intersection of Trauma, Precarity, and African Cinema: A Reflection on Mahamat-Saleh Haroun’s Grigris.” In Kenneth W. Harrow and Carmela Garritano (Eds.), The Companion to African Cinema. Oxford: Wiley Blackwell, 2018.


University of Texas at Austin, Ph.D., Comparative Literature

"What's in the Draft? An Archival Approach to Kivu Ruhorahoza’s Europa: Based on a True Story." Invited Lecture, University of Wisconsin, Madison. February, 2021.

"The Persistence of Trauma in African Cinema." Modern Language Association Convention, January 2021.

"Author Meets Critic: The Beautiful Skin." African Studies Association Conference, November 2020.

"Immigration and The Infiltrators: A Virtual Screening and Conversation with Alex Rivera. Redesigning Modernities Project and the Department of Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese at the Pennsylvania State University, October 2020.