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Molly Appel

by rjp218 May 18, 2016
Molly Appel

2016 Crawford Fellow


  1. Ph.D. Comparative Literature with a minor in Latin American Studies – The Pennsylvania State University (expected 2017, currently ABD)
  2. M.S. Teaching, specialization in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages – Pace University, 2009
  3. B.A. Self-determined major in Mythology and Folklore - Skidmore College, 2007


Molly Dooley Appel is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Comparative Literature with a minor in Latin American Studies. She researches the pedagogical underpinnings of human rights literature and scholarship. Molly was a 2007 Teach For America (TFA) corps member in New York City, teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) in Washington Heights and in the Bronx for 4 years. Later, she provided instructional and curricular support to TFA corps members while teaching ESL at Temple University in Philadelphia. At Penn State she has been a teaching assistant in Comparative Literature, a research assistant and dissertation fellow for Penn State’s Title VI National Resource Center – The Center for Global Studies, an instructor of Rhetoric and Composition, and an officer for the Penn State Americanists and the organization for Graduates in International Languages and Literatures. 


Molly’s dissertation, “That The World May Learn: The Pedagogical Mediations of Human Rights Literature in the Americas,” is focused on the ideas we have about the role of literature in teaching people to understand human rights. Scholars, educators, and human rights advocates advance their work through a set of assumptions about the relationships between imagination, language, and personal/community engagement. Literature is said to train, invite, and encourage audiences to feel, consider, or imagine human rights and their subjects; these are verbs that indicate the presence of a complex pedagogical relationship casting audiences as active or passive “students” of a text. She develops this idea through three case studies anchored in the late 1960s and early 70s in the Americas, an era that ushered in paradigm-shifting social movements, new developments in pedagogical practices, and a new wave of human rights literature: the student movements within Argentina, Mexico, and the Chicano-Nuyorican movements in the United States. Molly uses theories of critical pedagogy to examine how literary texts and public discourses mediate student subjectivities during this time. She argues that a recognition of these pedagogical mediations can both contribute to humanistic understandings of the development of human rights discourse and help cultivate empowered studentship through scholarly practice.