Maggie Unverzagt Goddard

I’m an interdisciplinary scholar working at the intersections of performance and visual culture studies, public humanities, and critical theories of the body. I’m currently a PhD candidate in American Studies at Brown University with an MA in Public Humanities and a Certificate in Gender & Sexuality Studies. Concerned with the politics of looking, my work focuses on how visual and material culture reflects and inflects historical narratives and the representation of the body.

In my dissertation, Improper Objects: Embodied Aesthetics and the Politics of the Pelvis, I explore the relationship between historical narratives and the body through visual culture, performance, and protest. Combining archival research and close reading, I focus on how artists and activists offer aesthetic strategies to reshape public memory while also complicating and claiming bodily autonomy. Each chapter is oriented around a particular object associated with the pelvis to illuminate central debates surrounding race, gender, and sexuality. Indexing memory and materiality, I trace and trouble a contracting timeline that extends from the 19th century to the present to position the pelvis—not as a source of bodily legibility—but as a complex affective site shaped through different sociocultural and historical circumstances.

At Brown, I received the Deans’ Faculty Fellowship and served as a graduate fellow with the Center for Public Humanities and Cultural Heritage and the Spatial Structures in the Social Sciences initiative. I also held the Curatorial Proctorship at the David Winton Bell Gallery and the 21st-Century PhD Proctorship at the Cogut Institute for the Humanities. I was a teaching assistant for undergraduate courses in the Departments of American Studies and Ethnic Studies and designed and taught the course “Objects as Texts: Materializing Race, Gender, and Sexuality.” In addition to my research and teaching, I have served on the Title IX Oversight and Advisory Board, College Curriculum Committee, Independent Concentration Committee, Finance Committee of the Graduate Student Council, and the Redesigning Ability VII Task Force at the Warren Alpert Medical School at Brown to reform the medical school curriculum through changes to integrate racial justice and health equity as core competencies. I am also a member of the Graduate Student Advisory Committee for the Harriet W. Sheridan Center for Teaching and Learning.

Born in Cleveland and raised in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, I received my bachelor’s degree with honors in Religion with a concentration in Religion, Ethics, and Society and a minor in Philosophy from Haverford College. I also hold master’s degrees in Public Humanities from Brown and in American Studies from George Washington University. My graduate and undergraduate studies bridged my interests in critical theory, material culture, and the politics of the body. At George Washington, I received a Graduate Fellowship as the Graduate Teaching Assistant for University Professor Vanessa Northington Gamble and the Columbian College of Arts & Sciences Distinguished Scholar Award, awarded to the graduating master’s student with the highest academic achievement and the greatest contributions to the university community. With a background in education and curation, I have previously worked at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Thomas Alva Edison High School/John C. Fareira Skills Center, Corcoran Gallery of Art, and MOCA Cleveland.

Public humanities is an integral component of my own scholarship and teaching. I continue to curate exhibitions and collaboratively coordinate public projects that incorporate digital storytelling and data visualizations. I regularly collaborate with arts and culture organizations, schools, and community groups to create installations, digital projects, public programs, and other events.