Prof. Max Cavitch, Co-director, Psychoanalytic Studies Minor

Associate Professor, Department of English
Affiliated faculty member, Department of History (Graduate Group) and the Programs in Comparative Literature and Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies
Co-Director, Psychoanalytic Studies Minor


Fisher-Bennett Hall, room 341

I joined Penn’s faculty in 1999, after receiving my B.A. from Yale and my Ph.D. from Rutgers. My areas of expertise include American and African American Literatures and Cultures, Cinema Studies, Poetry and Poetics, and Psychoanalytic Studies. My first book, published in 2007, is a study of mourning poetry in 18th- and 19th-century North America: American Elegy: The Poetry of Mourning from the Puritans to Whitman. I’m currently working on two new monographs: Passing Resemblances: A Critical Inventory of Autobiography and Mad Poet of Philadelphia: Towards a New Literary Psychohistory. I’m the editor of the forthcoming Oxford World’s Classics edition of Walt Whitman’s Specimen Days and the co-editor (with historian Brian Connolly) of the essay-collection, Situation Critical! Critique, Theory, and Early American Studies. I’ve also published numerous articles on a wide variety of topics in journals including American Literary History, Contemporary Psychoanalysis, Early American Literature, ESQ, The Journal of Wild Culture, Oxford Literary Review, PMLA, Postmodern Culture, Psychoanalysis, Culture & Society, Screen, Senses of Cinema, and Victorian Poetry. I also write in various non-academic forms, including recent or forthcoming poetry in the journals Brittle Star, Grand, Philosophical Salon, Politics/Letters Live, and a work of creative non-fiction, forthcoming from Punctum Books, called Ashes: A History of Thought and Substance.

I am also a member of the collaboration committee of the Psychoanalytic Center of Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania Department of Psychiatry, one of the founding faculty members (and since 2020 one of the co-directors) of Penn’s undergraduate program in Psychoanalytic Studies, and a founding member of the international Historical Poetics Working Group. I also continue to edit and to contribute to the blog I launched in 2019, called “Psyche on Campus” (to which it’s free to subscribe—so please do!).

In these various pursuits, I have been the grateful recipient of fellowships and grants from the Center for Mark Twain Studies, the Charlotte W. Newcombe Foundation, the Massachusetts Society of the Cincinnati, the Penn Humanities Forum, Cornell’s Society for the Humanities, the Provost’s Interdisciplinary Arts Fund, the Trustees’ Council of Penn Women, and the Austen Riggs Center.

More information, including forthcoming courses, publications, speaking engagements, and other events, is available at the following Web sites:

Finally, when I’m not indoors teaching or writing, I find bits of time to pursue artisanal mining and to contribute as often as possible to the wonderful public-science project, iNaturalist. You can read about iNaturalist in my essay linked here and you can follow my contributions to iNaturalist itself at the following link: