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Dr. Jane Olmsted
I’m the director of the Women’s Studies Program and a coordinator of the M.A. in Social Responsibility & Sustainable Communities. I’ve been teaching at WKU since 1996 and became WS director in 1998. It’s conventional wisdom that “online courses can’t replace f2f courses.” Maybe, but online courses offer many benefits—if they’re done right, and for many people. I enjoy the range of students we get in our online courses—from all over the country and with widely divergent backgrounds and interests. Our discussions are challenging and stimulating. As someone trained in literary studies, I’ve also been impressed with how well our written discussions proceed—reflection, response, questioning, disagreeing, changing—it’s very rewarding.
I earned a Ph.D. in English, with a minor in feminist studies, at the University of Minnesota, in 1996. My scholarly work has focused on American, African American, and Native American literature, with an emphasis on race and gender, and I have articles in Contemporary Literature and African American Review, and another about Langston Hughes’ fiction that originally appeared in Black Orpheus and was reprinted in Short Story Criticism. My colleague Elizabeth Oakes and I founded and edited the Kentucky Feminist Writers Series, which led to three volumes, of poetry, fiction, and life writing. Telling Stories and I to I are still available. This series has been a tremendous experience and opportunity to meet some of the wonderful women writers who live in all parts of the Commonwealth.
I love my profession and believe strongly that social change is best served by people with a sound education, with a keen understanding of how gender, race, class, and other elements of difference shape us as individuals and the worlds in which we live. One of my current projects involves a large collection of family letters and journals—particularly written by my mother and her brother. My blog, at http://bettybobhiatt.blogspot.com/, is a way of exploring the process and sharing some of my discoveries. I have also returned to writing poetry, after a long hiatus involving other work, other priorities. My first chapbook, Tree Forms, was published in June 2011 by Finishing Line Press.
I’m married to a philosopher and professor of philosophy and religion at a community college about an hour from Bowling Green. We have three sons, the youngest of whom was killed in October, 2009. This makes my work on family all the more precious to me. Our oldest son is working on his MFA in ceramics at the University of Florida, and our middle son is enjoying his work in mortgage financing in Atlanta. We have two beautiful granddaughters and share our family with their mothers, who are our good friends and who are, I am delighted to say, in school at WKU and at a local community college.
GWS Adjunct Faculty