Prof. William McClellan

William McClellan


Location: VC 7-283
Phone: (646) 312-3939


William McClellan is an Associate Professor of English. He specializes in Medieval literature and critical and cultural theory, especially the psychoanalytic theory of Jacques Lacan and the biopolitical theory of philosopher Giorgio Agamben. A graduate of Syracuse University, he earned his MPhil and his PhD from the City University of New York Graduate Center. He teaches freshman writing, Great Works of Literature, as well as a variety of electives including a survey of British literature, Chaucer, Medieval romance, and Boccaccio. He has developed a course he titles "Zones of Hell: Dante’s Inferno, Levi’s Auschwitz," which he offers every other year. He has been an English department student advisor for the past ten years.

His other scholarly activities include his participation in two NEH Summer Seminars: the first at The Huntington Library in California on manuscript codicology and the second at the American Academy in Rome on the appropriation of classical culture in Rome in the high Middle Ages. He has researched Middle English anthology manuscripts in libraries including the Bodleian at Oxford, The British Museum in London, and Biblioteca Nazionale in Naples, and has published articles on those manuscripts in journals: Studies in Bibliography, Genre, and Text. He has also published critical essays in several anthologies on Medieval literature. An essay comparing Medieval rhetorical theory and Bakhtin’s theory of dialogic discourse appeared in Exemplaria.

More recently he has published an article in that journal on Agamben and Chaucer, and chapters on Agamben, Levi and the new ethics of reading in two anthologies, The Legacy of Primo Levi and Answering Auschwitz: Primo Levi’s Science and Humanism. He is completing a book, Reading Chaucer After Auschwitz, which collocates the writings of Chaucer and Levi, and examines the ways the Holocaust has transformed our moral universe and changed how we read traditional works of literature.

The City University of New York