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. At NMU, Dr. Larkin teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in composition, American literature, African American literature, gender and literature, and critical theory. Her recent courses include “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
  • Reading & Reception Theory

Selected Publications:

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

“Reading as Responsible Dialogue in Ana Castillo’s The Mixquiahuala Letters.” MELUS: Multiethnic Literature of the United States 37.3 (2012): 141-165.

[Inaugural MELUS Best Essay Award Winner.]

“Postwar Liberalism, Close Reading, and ‘You’: Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man.” LIT: Literature Interpretation Theory 19.3 (2008): 268-304.

"Authentic Mothers, Authentic Daughters and Sons: Ultrasound Imaging and the Construction of Fetal Sex and Gender." Canadian Review of American Studies 6.3 (2006): 273-291.

Lesley Larkin