The summer after my sophomore year in college I had the good fortune to work as a counselor at a camp in Ontario’s “Haliburton Highlands,” a vacation area north of Toronto. That experience confirmed and extended my interest in Canada so that, after graduation with a B.A. in English (Bowling Green, Ohio), I decided to attend graduate school there, first at Waterloo (M.A.) and then at the University of Manitoba (Ph.D.) Specializing in Canadian Literature in English and in Canadian Studies, I returned to “the States” (as Canadians say) and joined the St. Lawrence faculty in 1983. Here I teach Canadian literature and other English courses, Canadian Studies, and have been a regular presence in the First Year Program. There I teach various Canada connected courses, most recently “Canada’s Great War” and a first-year seminar called “Famous Dead Canadians.” I’ve also taught first-year seminars on subjects of personal interest, “The New Yorker” and “Local Boy Makes Good: Frederic Remington’s Life, Art, and Career.”
As a scholar, I have focused on the literary Wests of both Canada and the United States, on Alice Munro and Willa Cather, and on Canadian writing more generally. My first book, The Great Prairie Fact and Literary Imagination (1989) remains the only critical study of that western landscape in its binational context. Recent work in the same vein are two coedited collections of essays, One West, Two Myths: A Comparative Reader (2004) and One West, Two Myths II: Essays in Comparsion (2006). This western work has occasioned a sustained teaching and scholarly interest in the writing of Willa Cather, producing numerous essays and two coedited collections of Cather Studies, the most recent being Willa Cather: A Writer’s Worlds (2010). Concurrent and coequal with this work has been my scholarship on Alice Munro, a writer who is a mainstay of the New Yorker and also the leading contemporary practitioner of the short story in English. This work culminated in the first extended biography, Alice Munro: Writing Her Lives (2005), a book project with which Ms. Munro cooperated. I am now at work on a revised and updated edition since Munro has published two more books since mine appeared. Most recently, I have contributed a chapter on Munro, Margaret Atwood, and two other Canadian women writers to the Cambridge History of Canadian Literature (2009).
Since 2006 I have worked as Associate Dean for Academic Advising Programs, looking after St. Lawrence’s various supports for students in academic difficulty and also working on all things connected to advising and registration, from first arrival to graduation—and beyond too.