MaryEllen Higgins, Ph.D.

Penn State Lion Mark
Associate Professor, English
Executive Committee Member, Teaching International
Office Phone
Office Location
Main Building, 203
Penn State Greater Allegheny, 4000 University Drive, McKeesport, PA 15132

    Fall 2021

    On-Campus Office Hours:
    Tuesdays:  1:30 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.

    Virtual Office Hours via Zoom:
    Wednesdays:  11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
    Zoom URL :

    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 (coedited 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

    Research, Professional or Personal Interests:
    African cinema, international trauma studies, curatorial approaches to film, memoir writing

    Research Interests

    African cinema, international trauma theories, 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

    Papers and Presentations

    "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.