Focus on New Faculty - Devoney Looser

Devoney Looser

Professor Looser has returned to the ASU Department of English after a twelve year absence. Looser most recently served as the Catherine P. Middlebush Chair of English at the University of Missouri.

• What is the focus of your research?

My research focuses on eighteenth- and nineteenth-century British literature, particularly the history of the novel and women's writings. My first book was British Women Writers and the Writing of History, 1670-1820, and my most recent book was Women Writers and Old Age in Great Britain, 1750-1850. I am at work now on a biography of two once-celebrated and now unknown sister novelists, Jane and Anna Maria Porter, and on a book on Jane Austen and the women's movement. I also have a few smaller projects on feminism and aging studies that I'm excited about.

• Describe what students can expect from your classes this Fall and next Spring?

I will be teaching a graduate seminar on Jane Austen in the fall semester. We'll read her fiction alongside the writings of her once well-known contemporaries, in addition to looking at her through the lens of feminist theories and the history of the book. We'll read some of Austen's best-known novels, of course, but we'll also tackle texts that are less often read and taught, including her juvenilia and her unfinished last work of fiction, Sanditon. In the spring semester, I'll be teaching an undergraduate course on women's writings. These will both be discussion-driven courses with research projects, writing assignments, and opportunities for revision.

• What do you like to do outside of academia?

One of my coaches describes the academics on our roller derby team as "smackademics." I don't know if I'll continue to play roller derby as a "smackademic" in the Phoenix area, but I look forward to finding a new place to skate! I also enjoy activities with our two sons and look forward to introducing them to desert hikes.

Fall Course Offerings

ENG 635 - Topic: Jane Austen and Her Contemporaries
SLN 84557 W 4:30 PM-7:15 PM

Jane Austen (1775–1817) is an author who seems to need no introduction. But do we know Jane Austen as well as we think we do? Or rather, how do we know her, and how might we know her with greater nuance? In this seminar we will investigate the new insights that might be realized about Austen by reading her closely alongside the now understudied—but once well-known—women writers of her day. Whether we are seeking to understand Austen’s fictional techniques, political views, religious beliefs, reception in her lifetime, or posthumous reputation, we stand to learn a great deal by reading her in new contexts. We will consider several of Austen's published novels and manuscript writings, as well as work by her female contemporaries, including Anna Maria Porter, Jane West, and Hannah More. The seminar will have a three-pronged emphasis: 1) undertaking collective close reading and discussion of primary texts by Austen in tandem with those of her once-celebrated female contemporaries and 2) providing tools for pursuing advanced study of Austen among other writers of this era, using emerging digital and traditional archival research techniques and 3) making sense of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century writers through today's theoretical/critical texts, particularly in the areas of feminist studies and the history of the book. Requirements: proposal, revised proposal, presentation, textual editing project, research-based seminar paper.

Spring Course Offerings

ENG 461: Studies in Women and Literature
SLN: 23803 TTH 12:00P-1:15P