Matthew Marciello

Headshot of PhD student Matthew Marciello

Matthew Marciello

PhD Student

Matthew Marciello (they/them and he/him, Mx.) is a first-year PhD student in American Studies at George Washington University. They earned their M.A. in Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies from Ohio State University in 2023 and their A.B. in American Studies and Gender and Sexuality Studies from Brown University in 2021.

Across the fields of American studies, WGSS, and history, their work combines social, cultural, and intellectual history with critical theories to intersectionally engage and contribute to queer studies and queer theory; trans studies; (critical) intersex studies; LGBTQI+ history; and histories of sexuality, gender, race, and racial and sexual science. As a gay and non-binary trans white settler scholar, they regard their research as indebted to Black and Indigenous feminist and queer studies scholars, as well as to past and present feminist, queer, trans, and intersex BIPOC activists. At GW, Matthew aims to continue to interrogate twentieth-century LGBTQI+ and sexological history in the United States while attuned to anti-Blackness/“the afterlives of slavery” and anti-Indigeneity/settler colonialism as analytics.

Feel free to reach out or connect with Matthew via email at [email protected] or on LinkedIn at to learn more about their work and/or GW’s American Studies program!

Where did you go for undergrad, and what did you study?

For undergrad, I studied American Studies and Gender and Sexuality Studies at Brown University. At Brown, I gained a strong interdisciplinary foundation and interest in queer studies and various traditions of critical theory throughout the humanities. I culminated my degree by writing an American Studies senior honors thesis titled “From Hermaphrodites with Attitude to #EndIntersexSurgery: Intersex Activism, Resistance, and Critique of Medicalization.” My thesis comprehensively examines and periodizes 1990s–present U.S. intersex activist history from the 1990s and 2000s beginnings of the intersex movement through present-day intersex activism that harnesses the power of social media and the hashtag. It works to articulate how intersex people have critiqued intersex medicalization and negotiated the politics of intersex bodies and identity.

From there, I attended Ohio State University for my Master’s in Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies with a Graduate Minor in History. At OSU, I focused my research on Black feminist slavery studies, trans studies, and queer theory and queer studies. As the culmination of my degree, I completed an M.A. portfolio of two journal-quality papers, portions of which I will be presenting at conferences and hope to submit for publication.

Is there one book that inspired you to pursue the field of American Studies? If so, which one and why?

Saidiya Hartman’s first monograph Scenes of Subjection: Terror, Slavery, and Self-Making in Nineteenth-Century America (1997) immediately comes to mind. With a PhD in American Studies herself, Hartman in Scenes of Subjection provides a cogent, biting argument about what exactly the United States project of Black chattel slavery was and how slavery-like conditions continued after de jure abolition. (Hartman would later coin the term “the afterlife of slavery” in Lose Your Mother: A Journey Along the Atlantic Slave Route.) Her concept of “fungibility” in Scenes of Subjection has been germinal to various critical interdisciplinary fields of study, as well as foundational to my own work and awareness of past and present anti-Black realities of the United States. Hartman’s effective and creative use of mixed methods along with her demonstrated commitment to elucidating the past to understand our present motivate me to produce better American studies work.

What advice would you give to GW undergraduates in American Studies?

I would say that finding your place or pathway in American Studies is often a balancing act. There are so many different people within the interdiscipline of American Studies: they have different interests, they are from different disciplinary or interdisciplinary backgrounds, and they use different methods. I would encourage GW undergraduates in American Studies to begin developing their focus (an area of “depth”) early on in their careers—any inter/disciplinary field or interest area from Cold War history or African American women’s literature to urban studies or queer theory. However, you still need to obtain a decent amount of “breadth” of knowledge, so you can communicate with colleagues and scholars working within American Studies here at GW or elsewhere and engage with American Studies scholarship. So, definitely find your passion, but also be aware of other conversations happening, other time periods, and other bodies of scholarship, as well as how they relate to what you focus on.

Imagine you're up to bat as a Major League Baseball Player. You need a walk-out song. Which would you choose?

That would be a tough choice between two quite different songs from two different movies: “Into the Unknown” from Frozen 2 (the Panic! At the Disco version) or “This Is Me” by Keala Settle from The Greatest Showman.