Lesley Larkin


M.A. & Ph.D., University of Washington
B.A., Linfield College

Lesley Larkin earned a Ph.D. with distinction from the Department of English at the University of Washington in 2007 and taught there and at Seattle Pacific University before joining the NMU faculty in 2008. Dr. Larkin’s areas of expertise include American literature (1865-present), African American literature, American ethnic literatures, race and gender studies, reading and reception theory, and intersections among literature, science, and medicine. Her first book, Race and the Literary Encounter: Black Literature from James Weldon Johnson to Percival Everett (2015), traces the strategies developed by modern and contemporary Black writers to challenge, model, and theorize modes of reading race. Dr. Larkin is currently working on a second book, tentatively titled Reading in the Postgenomic Age, which explores how contemporary U.S. and Canadian narratives engage rearticulations of race, gender, and humanness prompted by genomic research. She is also the coeditor, with Patrick O'Donnell and Stephen Burn, of the Encyclopedia of Contemporary American Fiction, 1980-2020, published by Wiley Blackwell in 2022. At NMU, Dr. Larkin teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in composition, American literature, African American literature, gender and literature, and critical theory. Over the years, her courses have included “Women and Reading in Contemporary Fiction” (EN 250), "Diverse Traditions in American Literature: Race and Speculative Fiction" (EN 375), “American Literature V: Postmodern Temporalities” (EN 376), “Major Authors: Toni Morrison” (EN 530), “Principles of Critical Investigation: Reading and Responsibility” (EN 504), and “American Literature in the Genomic Age” (EN 570). 

Teaching Specialties:

  • American Literature from 1865 to the Present
  • African American Literature
  • American Ethnic Literatures
  • Race & Gender Studies
  • Critical and Literary Theory

Selected Publications:

"'Then Her World Exploded': Science-Fictional Reading and Ta-Nehisi Coates's Between the World and Me." MELUS 47.3 (2022): 89-111.

The Encyclopedia of Contemporary American Fiction, 1980-2020Eds. O'Donnell, Burn, and Larkin. Wiley-Blackwell, 2022.

"Reading in the Postgenomic Age: On Contemporary Literature and the Good Bionarrative Citizen." The Hastings Center Report. 50.S1 (2020): S37-S43.

Race and the Literary Encounter: Black Literature from James Weldon Johnson to Percival Everett. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2015.

Lesley Larkin