McLarney is an Andrew W. Mellon Assistant Professor in the Department of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, where she teaches Arabic language and cultural studies. Ellen’s PhD is in Middle Eastern Studies and Comparative Literature from Columbia University. She was also a Humanities Fellow in the Department of Religious Studies at Stanford and taught at Berkeley and Rutgers. Her current project Human Rights in Islam: Literary Hermeneutics in Contemporary Islamic Thought explores the emergence of human rights discourse in Islamic thought in the 20th century, with specific focus on freedom, equality, rights, and women’s emancipation as Islamic concepts. She specifically looks at how modern Islamic thought uses literary methods and techniques to reinterpret classical Islamic texts and debates. McLarney is fluent in Arabic, Spanish and French, and has conducted research in Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt and Jerusalem.
As a participant in the Scholarship, Advocacy and Activism: Duke Faculty Perspectives on Human Rights series, sponsored by the Duke Human Rights Center at the Franklin Humanities Institute, McLarney discusses her research on the discourse of rights, freedom, equality, and democracy in Islamic thought in the late ninetieth century.