Priscilla Wald teaches and works on U.S. literature and culture, particularly literature of the late-18th to mid-20th centuries, contemporary narratives of science, medicine, environmental justice, and law, myth and religion, and science fiction literature and film. Her most recent book-length study, Contagious: Cultures, Carriers, and the Outbreak Narrative, considers the intersection of medicine and myth in the idea of contagion and the evolution of the contemporary stories we tell about the global health problem of “emerging infections.” Her first book-length study, Constituting Americans: Cultural Anxiety and Narrative Form, explores  the fragility of political and legal institutions in the US stemming from legal exclusions from personhood of certain populations and the narratives that emerged to tell their untellable stories. 

She is currently at work on a book-length study entitled Human Being After Genocide. This work begins with the efforts to rethink the idea of the human in the effort to fashion a conception of “human rights” in the wake of the atrocities of two world wars and radical geopolitical transformations. It traces how the turn to science in those efforts has led to ethical dilemmas in biotechnology and impasses in efforts to address climate justice.

Wald is co-editor of American Literature as well as on the Editorial Board of Literature and Medicine, co-editor of a book series on nineteenth-century American Literature at NYU Press, and of two edited collections, The American Novel 1870-1940, volume 6 Oxford History of the Novel in English and Twentieth and Twenty-First Century Literature and Science, vol. 5 of Palgrave Handbooks of  Literature and Science. She also co-directs The First Book Institute at Penn State University.