I was raised in Toronto in a lone-parent working-poor family. Mother, grandmother, teachers, part-time employers, administrators, a sympathetic bank manager, and the Canada Council helped me get an Honours BA in History at the University of Toronto and an Honours BA and a DPhil in English at Oxford University. The Canada Student Loans program was introduced in the early 1960s just in time to prevent me from having to drop out and helped me get started at Oxford, when timely Canada Council funding helped me complete my doctorate on the English novel and the French Revolution. I then taught for a year and had a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton and a Killam Canada Council post-doctoral fellowship.
I then gladly came to the University of Alberta in 1976. Its excellent library fed my research and teaching. Over the years the University awarded me a J. Gordin Kaplan research prize, two McCalla Professorships, two Killam Cornerstone grants, a Distinguished University Professorship, and other funding. The research the University encouraged and enabled me to do also resulted in award of a Canada Research Chair from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) in 2000 and since 1990 an unbroken succession of Women's Work, Standard Research, and Insight research grants from SSHRC, which I've devoted largely to helping students acquire research training and professional development on a wide variety of research projects, especially in digital humanities.
There have been several high points for me in service to the University and beyond. In the early 1980s I chaired the General Faculties Council's Committee for Improving Teaching and learning. Research, conferences and presentations, organization of workshops and consultations underpinned the committee's report that resulted in the entire structure of resources, funding, and support for improving teaching and learning now in place at the University of Alberta. My most interesting national service was on a SSHRC funding committee for research in literatures, seeing the scope and diversity of such research in Canada. A similar experience was on an Arts Faculty committee for funding in all Arts subjects. My favourite Department service was as co-ordinator for visiting speakers and department seminars (twice). Most rewarding Department service was as student Awards and Prizes Officer in 2014.
Though I'm not "musical" I've always lived through music and have over 30,000 songs on my iTunes, which it struggles to manage. A major turning point in my sense of myself was encountering jazz when I was sixteen. I listen to all kinds of music and have come to feel Latin as the greatest music for combining European, African, and indigenous American traditions. My sport was running, and now it's walking, but I watch all sports, as well as loads of news. I get rebuilt going to galleries and exhibitions, plays and movies, and hoofing around cities I visit, usually on conferences. I don't drive but my sister, Director and Curator of the Owens Gallery at Mount Allison University, likes to drive and with her I experienced the two greatest road trips of my life--Glacier National Park in Montana and the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia--both products of the New Deal.