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Scholarly Interest Report
Krista Comer
Professor of English
  • B.A. (1988) Wellesley College, Women's Studies
  • M.A. (1990) Brown University, American Studies
  • PhD (1996) Brown University, American Studies
Primary Department
   Department of English
Department Affiliations
  • Center for the Study of Women, Gender, and Sexuality
     Global Pop Wests, A Symposium. Perth, University of Western Australia
     The Institute for Women Surfers, A Public Humanities Initiative
     Univ Basque Country, "Feminist States of Critical Regionalism" Lecture
     All-Sports Radio -- Roxy & Sexualization of Women in Surf Media (2013)
     Cori Schumacher & Krista Comer -- ROXY Petition Delivery Video (2013)
     Gen X Turns 40! Feature News Story, KTRK-TV (Channel 13) 2010
     Critical Regionalism
     YouTube "On the Culture of Surfing"
    Research Areas
     Contemporary literature and culture (post 1945 to the present); Gender, globalization, and issues of place and cultural geography; The US West and its borders and Others (Other Wests/West and the Americas); critical regionalism and feminist theory; questions of history in literature and critical theory; Civil Rights literatures and post-Civil Rights political imaginations; youth politics, subcultures, and Girls' Studies. Engaged Research, Feminist Ethnography, Public Humanities.

    Research Interests


    I work broadly with questions of cultural geography, particularly with issues of place and space and their theorization.  My first book is a literary study situated in the political and cultural relations between the American West and its borders and Others (Landscapes of the New West: Gender and Geography in Contemporary Women’s Writing, 1999).  My second book takes up the local/global dialectic in contexts of contemporary economic restructuring and the subculture of surfing (Surfer Girls in the New World Order).  This project, published by Duke in 2010, forwards an ethnographically informed social theory about the intergenerational transfers of feminist knowledge (what I call "girl localism") happening through surf subcultures under globalization.  It offers multi-sited case studies in postregional travels and dwelling in the Global South and the Transpacific, analyzing them as instances of globalization from below.  

    In Spring/Summer 2013, I guest edited a special issue for Western American Literature “Emergent Field Directions from Younger Scholars.” This exciting project features ten essays of new research by junior scholars who address, from divergent research locations (film, comp lit, American Studies as well as literary study), the conceptual keywords of US Western literary and cultural studies at present: postwestern, postregionalism, the rhizome and critical regionalism. Essays ask about legacies of settler colonialism and place ethics in the present as well as question the limits and forward the mulitple affects of contemporary mobility through concepts like migrant melanchoia, banal cosmopolitanism, and the feminist gothic.  

    Over the years I have written essays about critical regionalism and gender, questions of history in literature and critical theory, Civil Rights literatures and post-Civil Rights political imaginations, and issues of youth politics and girls’ communities under neoliberalism.  Recently, I have been thinking through and writing about the problem of the critical in Global Wests theoretical problematics.  I am interested in the general claim "I Am Where I Think” -- this phrase comes specifically from Walter Mignolo and I think of it as both a diagnosis as well as a theoretical opening for work I’m doing on embodiment, an ethics of place, literature about women in the present, and feminist collaboration.

    My current book States of Feminist Critical Regionalism proceeds on two fronts. One of them is a Public Humanities project about activist surfing that takes its methodology from concepts of "engaged research." It grows from research over the last few years with surfers who have contacted me after reading Surfer Girls in the New World Order. The other is a feminist critical theory and literary studies project.  While these are different projects in many respects, they also slip and slide into one another, and theorize one another, and through the knowledges produced by both in concert, I explore very contemporary political imaginations that join notions of feminist states with those of critical regionalism. "Storytelling in the Present" is a phrase I invoke to signal a key interest in literary and activist strategies of feminist storytelling that contend with the broad political climate and confusions of postfeminism.

    Other projects in process include two edited book projects.  One, Other Wests/Global Wests: American West/Américas coming out of a series of faculty seminars about interests shared by US Western and Postwest Studies and Latin American Studies.  The seminar is undertaken through the research cluster, “The Local/Global West,” of which I am Chair, in Rice University’s Américas Research Center.  Another project is a book of collected essays, Sportsland: Community and Identity in Greater Los Angeles, which I'm co-editing with Michael Willard and Jose Alamillo.  I am also completing a memoir, Beyond 766 Valencia.

    Teaching Areas
     American Literature and Culture; The US West, Postwest, West/Americas, West/Global South; Transnational Youth Studies; Gender & Race; Comparative Race Studies; Geography/Ethnography/Globalization. Engaged Research & Practices of Feminist Theory.
    Selected Publications
     Refereed articles

    “Everyday Regionalisms in Contemporary Critical Practice,” in Postwestern Cultures: Literature, Theory, Space, ed. Susan Kollin (University of Nebraska Press) 30-58 (2007).


    Krista Comer "Feminism, Women Writers, and the New Western Regionalism." Updating the Literary West (1997) : 7-34.


    Krista Comer "Literature, Gender Studies, and the New Western History." Arizona Quarterly, 53:2 (1997) : 99-134.


    Krista Comer "Revising Western Criticism through Wanda Coleman." Western American Literature, 33(4) (Winter, 1999) : 357-83.


    Krista Comer "Sidestepping Environmental Justice: 'Natural' Landscapes and the Wilderness Plot." Frontiers, 18:2 (1997) : 73-101.


    Krista Comer "Taking Feminism and Regionalism Toward the Transnational Third Wave." A Companion to the Regional Literatures of America (2003) : 111-128.


    Krista Comer "Wanting to be Lisa: Generational Rifts, Girl Power, and the Globalization of Surf Culture." American Youth Cultures (2004) : 237-65.


    Krista Comer "Western Literature at Century's End: Sketches in Generation X, Los Angeles, and the Post-Civil Rights Novel." Pacific Historical Review, 72:3 (2003) : 405-15.


    Comer, Krista " West ." Keywords for American Cultural Studies, Eds. Bruce Burgett and Glenn Hendler, New York University Press, Second Edition (2014)


    Comer, Krista "The Problem of the Critical in Global Wests." A History of Western American Literature, Susan Kollin, ed., Cambridge University PressIn Press


    Comer, Krista "‘We’re Blacksurfing:’ Activist History & Liberation Politics in White Wash ." Journal of American Ethnic History, forthcomingIn Press


    "Postwestern: An Assessment." in Krista Comer, ed. Western American Literature Special Issue "Emergent Field Directions from Younger Scholars," 48.1&2 (Spring & Summer 2013): 3-15. 


    "Exceptionalism, Other Wests, Critical Regionalism," review essay American Literary History, 2011, 23(1), 159-173.


    2007 “Western,” in Keywords for American Cultural Studies, eds. Bruce Burgett & Glenn Hendler (New York, NYU Press), 238-42.


    Surfer Girls in the New World Order (Duke University Press) 2010.


    Landscapes of the New West: Gender and Geography in Contemporary Women's Writing (University of North Carolina Press) 1999.

     Editor of books

    Comer, Krista. Western American Literature: Special Issue "Emergent Field Directions from Younger Scholars." Spring & Summer 2013, vol. 48, nrs. 1&2.

     Book reviews

    Review of Imagining the African American West and Wrangling Women: Humor and Gender in the American West, American Literature (March 2010, 28:1), 202-04.


    Review of The Cambridge Companion to the Literature of Los Angeles, Kevin R. McNamara, ed. Pacific Historical Review (2011).


    “Ninja, Surfer, Rapper, Environmental Educator:  Another Day at the Beach with Mira Manickham.” Blog entry, 2012. browngirlsurf.com


    "Presentation to the Saldivars of the Distinguished Achievement Award 2003." Western American Literature, 40:3 (2005) : 342-44.


    Jose F. Aranda and Krista Comer "Don't You Think We Need a Love Story Here? An Interview with Sandra Cisneros." Imprint News (Spring '03) : 2-4.


    Krista Comer "Barbara Kingsolver: A Short Biography and Readings of Major Texts." Literary Dictionary on line. "literarydictionary.com" (2001)


    Krista Comer "Joan Didion: A Short Biography and Readings of Major Texts." Literary Dictionary on line "literarydictionary.com" (2001)


    Krista Comer "Surfer Girls." Girlhood in America: An Encyclopedia, Ed. Miriam Forman-Brunell (Santa Barbara: ABC-Clio Publishers), Volume Two J-Z (2001) : 627-31.


    Krista Comer "Lost (and Found) in Disneyland: WLA and Cultural Studies." Western American Literature, 32(2) (Summer 1999) : 177-81.


    Krista Comer "Joan Didion's California." Updating the Literary West (1997) : 346-51.

     Conference Paper

    "2014 "Survivance, Critical Regionalism, Feminist Storytelling in the Present, Western Literature Association, Victoria, Vancouver Islands, British Columbia."." (November 5)


    "2014 “We’re ‘Blacksurfing’: Public History and Questions of Gender & Sexuality in Whitewash,” Organization of American Historians, Atlanta.." (April 11)

     Invited Papers

    2012 “Assessing the Postwestern. Guest Editor’s Remarks Introducing Western American Literature Special Issue: Emerging Field Directions from Younger Scholars.” Western Literature Association. Texas Tech University, Lubbock.  Invited Plenary Address. 


    2012 "The Concept of the Frontier in U.S. Western Literary and Cultural Study.”  An International Symposium on The Significance of the Frontier in an Age of Transnational History, sponsored by the Huntington/USC Institute on California and the West, The Huntington Library at San Marino, California. Invited Symposium Speaker.


    2012 “Theorizing a Feminist Critical Regionalism.” Society for the Study of American Women Writers, Denver, Colorado. Invited Highlighted Session Speaker.


    2009  “Intergenerational Transfer of Feminist Knowledges,” Tercera Jornada Internacional, Monterrey Technological Institute, Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico (October 7-8).


    2008   “Girl Power in Mexico: Ethnographies of Surfistas (Surfer Girls) in Sayulita,” Segunda Tercera Jornada Internactional, Monterrey Technological Institute, Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico (October 8).


    1998 "In Search of More than an Endless Summer: Surf Cultures of the early 1970s," Symposium on Nature Writing and the Environment sponsored by the American Literature Association, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico (December 3-6). 

     Invited Talks

    2012 “Girl Power & Surfing.”  Launch of “Living in Possibility” Fundraising Campaign for Brown Girl Surf (browngirlsurf.com) Project:  Gathering New Stories in southern India and Bangladesh.  Rally (a Public Space Initiative Supporting Non-Profits & Social Entrepreneurship), San Francisco. Invited Speech.


    2010 "Surfing & Globalization,” LitQuake, San Francisco Literary Festival, Oct 4. Watch it: http://vimeo.com/15645795 


    2010 “West & Postwest: Surfing Subcultures, Gender, Critical Regionalism,” Invited Lecture, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, November 12.


    2010 “California Surf Shops and the Transfer of Girl Localist Knowledge,” Invited Lecture, San Francisco State University, Oct 5


    2006 “Surfing, Critical Regionalism, American Studies” University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (March).


    2002 "Ecotourism and Girls on Surfing Safari," Invited Lecture, University of North Texas, Denton, November 22.


    1999 "Women Outlaws and the New Female Regionalism, or Who in This World Will Believe Us?" Talk in honor of Western Literature Week at Boulder Public Library, Colorado (March).

     Keynote Speaker

    "2014 "Feminist States of Critical Regionalism," Internatl Conf on Literary West. Univ of Basque Country, Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain. ." (October 10)


    "2014 "Global Wests, Feminist Critical Regionalisms, Thinking Otherwise.” Pop West: A Symposium. University of Western Australia, Perth.." (July 25)


    "2014 “What’s ‘Critical’ About Which Critical Regionalism?” Bavarian International Summer Academy.Texas State University, San Marcos.." (June 1)


    “What’s a Critical Region? Decoloniality and the American West." Plenary Lecture conceptualizing collaborative project between US West and Latin American Studies. Western Literature Association, Missoula, Montana.


    2010 “Critical Regionalism, Gender, Western Literary and Cultural Studies,” Plenary Lecture, Western Literature Association, October 21, Yavapai-Prescott Tribal Lands (Prescott, Arizona).


    2009 "Surfing the New World Order"  Monterrey Technological Institute, Nuevo Leon, Mexico, September 11.


    2005 "History, Fiction, and the Literary West," Plenary Speaker, Western Literature Association, Los Angeles (October).


    2004 "Everyday Regionalisms in Contemporary Critical Practice," Past President's Address, Western Literature Association, Big Sky, Montana (October).


    2003 "The Status of Western Studies: Inside and Out" Plenary Comment, Western Literature Association, Houston (October).


    2003 "An Evening with Sandra Cisneros," Introduction and Presentation of Distinguished Achievement Award, Western Literature Association, Houston (October).


    2002 Plenary Respose to Annette Kolodny's "Indians, Prehistory, and the Myths of National Origin," Western Literature Association, Tucscon (October 10).


    2002 "Open Forum on Regionalism and Transnationalism," Plenary Talk, Tucson (October 11).


    2013 "Philosophies of Storytelling," Invited Public Lecutre at Patagonia (San Francisco) for Surfing Possibility: Film Shorts about India's and Pakistan's Surfer Girls, a BrownGirlSurf Event Commemorating International Day of the Girl. October 8.


    2005 "Surfing on the Edge of History: Grrrl Power and the New World Order," Invited Talk at Drury University, Springfield, Missouri (April 5).


    2013. RADIO. "Roxy, Sexualization of Women in Surf Media." Live Interview with Producer Wes Terry.  All Action Sports RAdio (AASR) September 19.


    2013 BLOG "Road to Roxy: Petition Delivery," http://www.corischumacher.com/2013/09/13/roxy-petition-delivery/


    Roundtable organizer and participant. “Bordercrossings between US West and                     Latin American Studies,” Western Literature Association, Missoula, Montana.


    2010 KTRK-TV (Channel 13) “Generation X Turns 40,” Feature story. May 19. Watch it: http://abclocal.go.com/ktrk/video?id=7452697


    "2014 Graduate Student Professionalization: Critical Trends, Western Literature Association, Victoria, Vancouver Islands, British Columbia.." (November 5)


    2103 "The States of Feminist Critical Regionalism," Western Literature Association (Berkeley, California). Conference Paper.


    2012 “Engaged Research Questions for Public Humanities: Brown Girl Surf Organization and the Changing LA Brand.” Pacific Coast Branch of the American Historical Association, University of San Diego.  Conference Paper.


    2012 “Decolonizing US Western Studies.” Western Literature Association. Texas Tech University, Lubbock.  Conference Paper.


    “Novels as Advertisements & ‘Girl Localisms’ Across California and Mexico,” Modern Language Association (MLA), Los Angeles.


     “Surf Girl Localisms and Global Imaginations,” Association for the Study of Literature and Environment (ASLE), University of Indiana, Bloomington.


    2010 “Local/Global Surf Subcultures, Neoliberal Girlhood, ‘The War on Terror,'’” American Studies Association, San Antonio, Texas, November 20.


    2011 “Novels as Advertisements & ‘Girl Localisms’ Across California and Mexico,”  Modern Language Association, Los  Angeles, January 6.


    2009   “After the Cowboy: Postwestern Masculinity, Suburbia, the Border Triology,” Western Literature Association, Spearfish, South Dakota (October).


    2008   “Architectures of Abandonment: The Nation State in Ruins,” Western Literature Association, Boulder, Colorado (October).


    2006 “Feeling Western, Feeling White: Racial/Spatial Structures of Feeling,” Western Literature Association, Boise, Idaho (October).


    2005 "Commiting to the Wave: Surfing, Community, Critique" American Studies Association, November.


    2005 "Malibu and Its Others in Endless Summer 1 (1966): Taking Local Youth Cultures Global," Western Literature Association, Los Angeles (October)..


    2002 "Tourism on Vacation: 'Girls' and the Surfing Safari," American Studies Association, Houston (November 15).


    2002 "Western Literature at Century's End," Western Literature Association, Tucscon (October 11).


    2001 "Western Regionalism and the Post-1989 Field Imaginary," Western Literature Association, Omaha (October).


    1999 "Women, Race and Space: Historical and Geographical Imaginations of the New Female Regionalism," The Berkshires Conference of Women's History, Rochester (June).


    1999 "Women's History and the California Counterculture: Surfer Girls, a Case Study," Western Literature Association, Sacramento (October).


    1998 "Geographical Imaginations of the New Female Regionalism," American Literature Association, San Diego (June).


    1998 "Reflections on the Origins of the New Female Regionalism: Thinking about Judith Freeman," Western Literature Association, Banff, Alberta, Canada (October).


    1998 "Wanda Coleman, 'Blackness,' and the Western Imagination," Midwestern MLA, St. Louis (November).


    1996  “Literary Sources for Gender Studies in the New Western History,” Joint meeting of the Western Literature Association and Western History Association. Kansas City (October).


    1995 “Beyond Sacred Landscapes: New Approaches to Reading Nature,” Western Literature Association, Vancouver, British Columbia (October).  


    1993 “Western Narrative: A Humanist Imperative?  Joan Didion and the Category of 'Western.'” Western Literature Association, Wichita, Kansas (October).

     Session Chair

    "2014 “Commemorating and Containing the Native,” Native American and Indigenous Study Association, Austin, Texas.." (May 30)


    2010 “Altermodern Aesthetics & the Expediences of Culture,” Panel Comment at Pacific Coast Branch of the American Historical Association, Santa Clara, California, Aug 13.


    2001 "Popular Culture and Girl Power," A New Girl Order: YOung Women and the Future of Feminisms Conference, Kings College, London (November).


    1999 "Becoming a Western Writer," American Studies Association, Montreal, Quebec (November).

    Editorial Positions
     Member of the Editorial Board, Western American Literature. Western Literature Association. (2001 - 2001)

    Supervised Theses & Dissertations
     Michon Benson, PhD Ride and Tie to Ride and Die. (2003) (Thesis Director)

     Joshua Cory, BA Knowledge and Community in the Transgender Foundation of America. (2013) (Thesis Director)

     Ben Ong, BA Colonial and Gender Politics in Environmental Documentaries. (2013) (Thesis Director)

     Lena Silva, BA Contact Improvisation Dance & Feminist Performance Art . (2013) (Thesis Co-Director)

     Joshua Redwine, BA Americanizing Gay Identities: The Metropolitan/Renegade Binary in Contemporary Cinema. (2013) (Thesis Co-Director)

     Casper Bendixen, PhD Literary & Rodeo Cowboys: Literature, West, Ethnography.. (2013) (Thesis Committee Member)

     Mercedes Llacer Albert, PhD Feminist Wests & Youth Literature. (2018) (Thesis Committee Member)

     Priscilla Ybarra, PhD Walden Pond in Aztlan?. (Thesis Committee Member)

     John Escobedo, PhD Prelim Advising. (Thesis Committee Member)

     Gina Weaver, PhD Prelim Advising. (Thesis Director)

    Awards, Prizes, & Fellowships
     Research Project Grant for “Summer Institute for Women Surfers II" , Humanities Research Center, Rice University

     Thomas J. Lyon Book Award in Western American Literary and Cultural Studies for Surfer Girls in the New World Order., Western Literature Association (October 2011.)

     Winner, Don D. Walker Prize for Best Essay, for "Revising Western Criticism through Wanda Coleman", Western Literature Association (1999)

     Finalist, Don D. Walker Prize for Best Essay for "Literature, Gender Studies, and the New Western History", Western Literature Association (1998)

     Contributor to "Annual Best Special Issue," Named by the Council of Editors of Learned Journals, for "Literature, Gender Studies, and the New Western History", Modern Language Association (1997)

     Finalist, Best Essay in Western History, for "Literature, Gender Studies, and the New Western History", Western History Association (Oct. 1998)

    Positions Held
     Member, Don D. Walker Prize Committee, Western Literature Association. (2003 - 2006)

     Executive Council, Western Literature Association. (2000 - 2001)

     Vice President, Western Literature Association. (2001 - 2002)

     Master of Baker College at Rice University. (2003 - 2010)

     Editorial Board, Western American Literature. (1999 - 2015)

     Master of Duncan College (Interim) at Rice University. (2010 - 2010)

     Associate Director of Center for the Study of Women, Gender and Sexuality, Rice University. (2012 - 2015)

     Master, Brown College. (2013 - 2015)

     Chair, Don D. Walker Prize Comittee, Western Literature Association. (2006 - 2011)

     Lider Academico, Visiting Scholar in Humanities and Social Sciences, Monterrey Technologial Institute, Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico. (2009 - 2009)