Professor McDonald studies the idea of culture as it has been shaped and reshaped over the past two hundred years, and the processes and perils of literary guardianship, especially in the complex, mobile, and interconnected world that emerged in the course of the long twentieth century. This guiding preoccupation has informed his work on censorship, the rise of mass culture, media history and questions of the book, the public value of literature, critical theory, and interculturalism. He has written on an eclectic range of authors, including Arnold, Beckett, Bennett, Blanchot, Bourdieu, Brink, Breytenbach, Coetzee, Conan Doyle, Conrad, Derrida, Gordimer, Jensma, Lawrence, Matthews, Mphahlele, Ndebele, Pound, Serote, Woolf, and Yeats.
He teaches literatures in English from around 1830 to the present and critical theory.
- The history of the book, 1800-present
- Literary censorship, 1800-present
- Anglo-American modernism, 1890-1945
- South African writing
- The rise (and fall) of English Studies
Professor McDonald has media experience.