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Michael Bérubé

Michael Bérubé

Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of Literature
Associate Head, English
Preferred Pronouns: he/him/his
(814) 863-2627
405 Burrowes Building
Mailroom: 430 Burrowes Building

Mailroom: 430 Burrowes Building

Spring 2024 Office Hours

M 11-1, Th 3-4

Curriculum Vitae


Ph.D., University of Virginia, 1989
M.A., University of Virginia, 1986
B.A., Columbia University, 1982

Professional Bio

Michael Bérubé is an Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of Literature at Pennsylvania State University. He is the author of twelve books to date, including Public Access: Literary Theory and American Cultural Politics (Verso, 1994); Life As We Know It: A Father, A Family, and an Exceptional Child (Pantheon, 1996; paper, Vintage, 1998); and What's Liberal About the Liberal Arts? Classroom Politics and "Bias" in Higher Education (W. W. Norton, 2006). He has also published two edited collections, Higher Education Under Fire: Politics, Economics, and the Crisis of the Humanities (Routledge, 1995; with Cary Nelson) and The Aesthetics of Cultural Studies (Blackwell, 2005).

Life as We Know It was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year for 1996 and was chosen as one of the best books of the year (on a list of seven) by Maureen Corrigan of National Public Radio.

In 2015 he published The Humanities, Higher Education, and Academic Freedom: Three Necessary Arguments, co-authored with Jennifer Ruth (Palgrave). His ninth book, The Secret Life of Stories: From Don Quixote to Harry Potter, How Understanding Intellectual Disability Transforms the Way We Read, was published by NYU Press in early 2016; in October 2016, Beacon Press published Life as Jamie Knows It: An Exceptional Child Grows Up, which was written with extensive input from Jamie himself. In 2021, the Norton Library (a new series from W. W. Norton) published his edition of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (the 1818 text).

In 2022, Johns Hopkins University Press published his second collaboration with Jennifer Ruth, It's Not Free Speech: Race, Democracy, and the Future of Academic Freedom, a provocative book that asks whether academic freedom--as distinct from free speech--should extend to white supremacists, or whether we should treat advocates of racist pseudoscience the way we treat believers in phlogiston or the efficacy of human sacrifice.

In 2024, Columbia University Press will publish his most recent book, The Ex-Human: Science Fiction and the Fate of Our Species.

He served three terms on the American Association of University Professors' Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure from 2009 to 2018, two terms on the AAUP National Council from 2005 to 2011, and two terms on the International Advisory Board of the Consortium of Humanities Centers and Institutes from 2011 to 2017. In 2012 he was president of the Modern Language Association. From 2010 to 2017, he served as the Director of Penn State's Institute for the Arts and Humanities. From 2012 to 2020, he served on the University Faculty Senate, and was elected Chair for the 2018-19 academic year.

Areas of Specialization

Visual Culture

Blogging, film, cartoons, graphic design