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ASU English department's Devoney Looser named Foundation Professor

Image of Devoney Looser / Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now

ASU English Professor Devoney Looser has been named a Foundation Professor, effective fall 2018. “ASU is unusual in its encouraging faculty to take research risks and in helping us share our work, beyond the university, in innovative ways,” she said.

August 31, 2018

Arizona State University English Professor Devoney Looser has been named a Foundation Professor effective fall 2018. This distinction is conferred by the president and provost to honor outstanding faculty.

Looser is the author or editor of seven books on literature by women. Her most recent book, “The Making of Jane Austen” (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2017), was named a Publishers Weekly Best Summer Book for nonfiction and received the Inside Higher Ed Reader’s Choice Award.

Looser has taught at ASU since 2013, having previously held the Catherine Paine Middlebush Chair of English at the University of Missouri. She received her PhD in English, with a certification in women’s studies, from the State University of New York at Stony Brook.

“Professor Looser is a rock star among British literature scholars,” said Krista Ratcliffe, chair of the Department of English, an academic unit of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. “Her recent book on Jane Austen, 'The Making of Jane Austen,' has rocketed her into international acclaim, garnering her invitations to speak on CNN and in the U.S., Europe, South America and Down Under. … We are very lucky to have Professor Looser representing ASU excellence literally all over the world.”

Looser said that she is grateful for the support she’s received from ASU.

“The resources invested in my research and teaching on the history of women’s writings, especially on Jane Austen, opened so many doors. That support allowed me to communicate findings with new audiences, in print and in person, on subjects I’m passionate about. I’m looking forward to doing more.”

“It’s an honor to receive this recognition of my work over the past five years at ASU,” she said.

Looser, an internationally recognized critic and expert in British women’s writings, the history of the novel, and Jane Austen, was recently awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities Public Scholar grant as well as a Guggenheim Fellowship for her project on sister novelists Jane and Anna Maria Porter.

The project unearths the 19th-century sisters’ literary legacy, including their contributions to the historical fiction genre. To wit: Jane Porter’s historical novel “The Scottish Chiefs,” about William Wallace, may have been the source text for the Mel Gibson film, “Braveheart” (1995).

Looser’s other current work, unrelated to literature except in Looser’s muscular enthusiasm for it, is an examination of roller derby. Her research, funded by the ASU Global Sport Institute, is a book-length project to chart and investigate “the renegade sport’s athletes, cultural impact, importance, and history.” Looser plays the sport occasionally and is faculty advisor for the ASU Roller Derby club team.

“It’s rare for a university to give its faculty the opportunities to pursue wide-ranging — even quirky — interests,” Looser said. “ASU is unusual in its encouraging faculty to take research risks and in helping us share our work, beyond the university, in innovative ways.”

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