Elizabeth S. Anker’s teaching and research interests include human rights, constitutionalism, contemporary world literature, the relationship between law and literature, and legal and political theory.
Her first book, Fictions of Dignity: Embodying Human Rights in World Literature (Cornell UP 2012), examines how liberal human rights discourses and norms depend on the dual constructs of dignity and bodily integrity. In the book, she looks to novels about human rights to investigate the human rights issues posed by the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission, women’s freedoms in Egypt, and constitution-writing in postcolonial India. In addition, Anker has recently published essays that explore the relevance of literature and film to questions of sovereignty, animal rights, democracy, 9/11, the history of American slavery, and constitutionalism. She is currently writing two books. First, Our Constitutional Metaphors: Law, Culture, and the Management of Crisis studies literature, film, television, and architecture to conduct a comparative analysis of the aesthetic forms through which constitutions gain legal and popular authority. Second, Human Rights and Critical Theory explores the recent focus on human rights within the humanities and especially literary study. She is also working on two co-edited collections: New Directions in Law and Literature with Bernadette Meyler, and Rethinking Critique with Rita Felski.
She has been a fellow at the Cornell Society for the Humanities and the Stanford Humanities Center.
She holds a J.D. from the University of Chicago and a Ph.D. from the University of Virginia. After receiving her J.D. she practiced for two years in the banking and finance group of Sidley Austin LLP.