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I grew up in Edmonton and completed my B.A. (English) at the University of Alberta in 1988. After graduation, I spent a brief stint as an Arts Administrator—the highlights of which included arranging a conference call with Margaret Atwood and shielding Alice Walker from a mob of adoring fans during a book-signing. The novelty of close proximity to such luminaries quickly wore off, and I decided to pursue graduate work. I received my Ph.D. from the University of Alberta in 1998. Since 1999, I have been teaching American literature, critical theory, and literary criticism here at Waterloo. My main areas of research and publishing are 19th- and early-20th century popular westerns, particularly by women, women’s science fiction of the 1950s and 60s, and American popular culture. Currently I am working on a biography of popular western author B.M. Bower, and am in the very early stages of a new project on pulp magazines readerships of the early 20th century. In my spare time I work on my farm just outside Waterloo, where I raise sheep and train and trial sheepdogs.
Westerns: A Women’s History. University of Nebraska Press, 2016.
Judith Merril: A Critical Study. Co-authored with Dianne Newell. McFarland, 2013.
Selected Book Chapters
“Women’s Suffrage and Popular Print Culture.” Co-authored with Mary Chapman. U.S. Popular Print Culture, 1860-1920. Ed. Christine Bold. London: The Oxford History of Popular Print Culture Series, Gen. Ed. Gary Kelly, 2011. 253-76.
“The Bovine Object of Ideology: History, Gender, and the Origins of the ‘Classic’ Western.” Reading The Virginian in the New West. Ed. Melody Graulich and Stephen Tatum. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2003.
“Daughter of Earth: Judith Merrill and the Intersections Among Gender, Science Fiction, and Frontier Mythology.” Science Fiction Studies 36.1 (March 2009): 48-66.
"More than She Deserves: Women Suffrage Memorials in Wyoming." Canadian Review of American Studies: 36.1 (2006): 17-44.
"Cattle Branding and the Traffic in Women in Early 20th Century Westerns by Women." Legacy: A Journal of American Women Writers 22.1 (2005): 30-46.
"Native American Oral Practice and the Popular Novel; Or, Why Mourning Dove Wrote a Western." Western American Literature. 39.4 (Winter 2005): 368-93.
Grants fellowships and awards
- Society for the Study of American Women Writers Honourable Mention for Best Book, 2017.
- SSHRC Connection Grant, 2014.
- SSHRC Standard Research Grant, 2011-2014.
- Don D. Walker Prize for Best Article Published in Western American Literary Studies for the year 2001. (Sponsored by the Western Literature Association)
- University of Alberta Dissertation Fellowship, 1997-98
- Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Doctoral Fellowship, 1993-1997
- Walter H. Johns Graduate Fellowship, 1993-1997
I am currently writing a biography of B.M.(Bertha Muzzy) Bower, prolific early 20th century author of popular westerns. Although the popular western has long been believed a male-authored tradition, Bower was the first popularizer of the western as we know it. She wrote over 60 novels and 100s of short stories as well as many film scenarios. Her influence on the western is profound if little known, largely because her publishers discouraged her from doing any publicity. My second research project involves pulp magazine readerships. Early pulp magazines cultivated readerships through reader “departments” in which readers debated the merits of the fiction, searched for companionship, or sought advice. They are treasure troves of information about early 20th century popular reading during the emergence of mass-market print culture.
Areas of graduate supervision
- American literature
- Popular culture
- Feminist and gender theory
- American women’s writing