I have always been interested in how things function--facts and theories, texts and discourses, academic disciplines and institutions, social movements and public policies. What, for instance, are the forms of discursivity used by scholars, activists, lawmakers, the media, and the public? How are explanations of the “same“ social phenomena constructed in these different arenas? How do interacting movements and institutions orchestrate change? What are the real-world impacts of action in or across these arenas? To answer questions like these, I oscillate among empirical research, theory, and practice. Practice has been an important part of my knowing about discourse and action--organizing women on campus during my graduate student days, serving on the MLA Commission on the Status of Women, chairing the Women’s Caucus for the Modern Languages, convening conferences on the new knowledge studies, coediting a book series and journal issues, and giving media interviews.

Educational Background & Specialties
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Educational Background

  • Ph.D.: English, University of Cincinnati, 1984


  • certain areas of contemporary American public policy and law
  • modern/contemporary American social movements (Civil Rights, New Left, Feminist, and Conservative)
  • literary, cultural, and social theory
  • the “new knowledge studies“