I am an assistant professor with a joint appointment in English and Women and Gender Studies. I earned my Master’s of Liberal Arts degree from the University of Pennsylvania, and received my doctorate in English Literature from Louisiana State University.
My first book, Vigilante Women in Contemporary American Fiction, was published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2011. Vigilante Women focuses on female characters who refuse to accept injustice. In the text I argue that vigilante heroines act to remedy violence that women experience on a daily basis: domestic violence, restrictive laws, and lack of political recourse, for example.
Moreover, the authors that I study (Zora Neale Hurston, Shirley Ann Grau, Eudora Welty, Carson McCullers, & Toni Morrison, among others) challenge ingrained social expectations, creating a more inclusive space for law, morality, and civility to flourish.
I believe that the vigilante characters of these novels model how acts of illegal resistance are representative of the larger movement toward equal rights in American culture, which makes the texts upon which I focus especially relevant and compelling for students.
When I’m not reading, writing, or researching, I devote my time to my adored family. Together we are learning about life on the Great Plains—traveling, hiking, exploring, shoveling, and playing in the snow.
Dena has been teaching Introduction to Women & Gender Studies since Spring 2009. She is proud to have the opportunity to help students start to see how systems of privilege and oppression shape life experiences. She works to create a classroom environment that allows students a safe space to explore challenging topics. Since 2012 she has had the honor of serving as the faculty advisor for the NDSU Women’s Activist Organization. She loves having the opportunity to work closely with the organization’s students as they engage in activist work at NDSU and throughout the FM community.