Michael James Harrington

Office Hours

Thursdays, 11:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.


Michael J. Harrington is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of English, pursuing graduate certificates in Gender and Sexuality Studies and African American Studies. He earned his B.A. (magna cum laude with distinction) in English and Sociology from Amherst College.

Michael’s dissertation, Always Been Queer: Retracing Masculinity, employs literary and multimedia analysis to uncover queer influence upon cisnormative masculinity. His project considers heterosexuality as a practice of forgetting and misremembering, wherein inconsistencies are rendered natural. Heterosexual culture reproduces itself by negating what is always there, be it queer attraction, recognition, social influence, or life itself. Always Been Queers posits this negation by conducting cultural genealogies of three popular masculine archetypes: the cowboy, gangster, and preacher. In addition to considering historic figures, the project “feels and questions the unsurvival of the condemned,” as Katherine McKittrick puts it, excavating queer traces through a wide-ranging archive that includes Owen Wister, Ocean Vuong, James Baldwin, 50 Cent, The Wire, Lil Nas X, and more. This study demonstrates that queer identification with masculine archetypes does not merely disrupt White, cisgender paradigms but attests to how such archetypes have always been queer.

Michael’s teaching interests include post-45 literary studies, African American literature, queer and gender studies, film and media studies, popular culture and art, minoritarian aesthetics, the phenomenology of gender and race, and composition and rhetoric. At Princeton, Michael has assisted in instruction for “American Cinema,” and “Literature, Food, and the American Racial Diet.” During the summer, he is an Academic Director for the Great Books Summer Program.

As a Puerto Rican-Greek first-generation college student, Michael aims to expend the voices which find their ways into scholastic discourse through his academic service. He was the inaugural graduate assistant for Organizing Stories, a student-focused initiative supported by a Humanities Council Exploratory Grant to explore the relationship between storytelling and activism. Michael also served as graduate director of Poetry@Princeton and head librarian of the Bain-Swiggett Library of Contemporary Poetry.

Michael was awarded a 2022-2023 Bain-Swiggett Assistant in Research Fellowship. He is also a Pushcart-nominated poet, writer of a Time Magazine Top 10 Video Game of 2018, and at work on an intersectional historical Western screenplay.