Donawerth wears many scholarly hats. In any given year she might be serving on a varied set of dissertation committees ranging from Shakespeare to nineteenth-century women's rhetoric to modern science fiction. Donawerth's ability to synthesize diverse perspectives and material has made her a favorite professor in Tawes Hall. Well-known for creating engaging classroom environments, Donawerth's class projects often prove to have a life beyond the semester. An undergraduate seminar produced a chapbook publication of Elizabeth Cary's The Tragedy of Mariam. Donawerth collaborated with graduate student Julie Strongson on a translation of Madeleine de Scudery's Letters, Orations, and Dialogues, published by University of Chicago Press in 2004.
Donawerth is perhaps best known for her work on literature by women in the Renaissance (she was instrumental in bringing the international triannual Attending to Early Modern Women conference to the University of Maryland). But her work on women's science fiction writing (Frankenstein's Daughters [Syracuse, 1997]) also has enduring popularity with students and readers.