Associate Professor of English and General StudiesOlin Hall 214
(509) 527-5244 (phone), 527-5039 (fax)
After working in the fields of communication and human resources for a number of years, Sharon Alker completed her B.A. (1996) and M.A. (1998) degrees at Simon Fraser University. She was awarded her doctorate in 2003 by the University of British Columbia.
Her teaching interests include literature of the eighteenth century and the Romantic period, Scottish literature, Canadian literature, autobiography, war literature, postcolonial literature, the Victorian novel, the historical novel, disability studies, science and literature, print culture, and cyber literature, and she is particularly interested in the authors, Margaret Cavendish, Daniel Defoe, Tobias Smollett, Maria Edgeworth, Mary Brunton, Robert Burns, and James Hogg. A recently completed essay on Maria Edgeworth came out of substantial research conducted alongside her first-rate, astute research assistant, Jamie Babcock (Whitman '07). In Summer of 2010, Alker worked with a research assistant, the intellectually energetic Ellie Gold (Whitman '11) on an article on masculinity in the work of the Romantic Scottish novelist John Galt.
Her research takes a number of different directions. She has a long-term interest in Scottish literature and has co-edited, alongside Holly Faith Nelson (Trinity Western University), a book collection on the working-class Scottish author, James Hogg. James Hogg and the Literary Marketplace: Scottish Romanticism and the Working-Class Author was released by Ashgate in September, 2009. Beth Frieden (Whitman '08) was an outstanding research assistant on this project, accompanying Dr. Alker to Edinburgh, where they did intense archival research in the National Library of Scotland. After completion of this project, Sharon will be co-editing a second essay collection on Robert Burns, along with Holly Faith Nelson and Leith Davis (Simon Fraser University). Aakanksha Veenapani (Whitman '09) was an invaluable research assistant for this project. Articles Alker has published, some along with Nelson, on James Hogg, William Shakespeare's Macbeth, Mary Brunton, Tobias Smollett, and John Arbuthnot intersect with this area of study.
Alker is currently working on a book-length study, with Holly Faith Nelson, on war and literature in the long eighteenth century. Nanda Maw Lin (Whitman '10), her astute research assistant in this project, helped her to accumulate and evaluate primary sources for the book at the University of Washington Library. Some early work on this project has already been completed, specifically on Daniel Defoe's Memoirs of a Cavalier (published in Eighteenth-Century Fiction) and, along with Nelson, an article on mourning in Margaret Cavendish's Bell in Campo (published in Eighteenth-Century Fiction).
Dr. Alker is currently Director of the Defoe Society, a new society that focuses on disseminating scholarly information on Daniel Defoe, and here she is grateful to her excellent research assistant Kim Trinh (Whitman '08), who assisted her in launching and maintaining the society website at www.defoesociety.org, and in gathering substantial material on Defoe and Dryden for the war project. In regards to her Scottish Studies, Alker is a member of the North American Committee for the James Hogg Society at http://www.jameshogg.stir.ac.uk/ and is a member of the Whitman Canadian Studies Association. With the help of Kim Trinh, the Association has launched a website at http://www.whitman.edu/canadian-studies.