People Collection


Julie Rak, PhD (McMaster) MA (Carleton) BA Hons. (McMaster)



English and Film Studies

About Me

I'm a Professor in the Department of English and Film Studies at the University of Alberta, and I live and work on Treaty 6 and Metis territory. My major areas of research are auto/biography and life writing, popular culture and North American literature. I have other interests in book history and publishing, as well as online forms of identity construction, graphic memoirs and video gaming. I am committed to researching what ordinary people think, do and write about their lives.


The Killam Annual Professorship, University of Alberta, 2017-2018.

The Hogan Prize. For the essay “Radical Connections: Genealogy, Small Lives, Big Data," A/B: AutoBiography Studies special issue “Excavating Lives.” 32.3 (Spring 2017): 479-497.

The Electa Quinney Award for Published Stories, Native American Literature Society (NALS). Life Among the Qallunnaat by Mini Aodla Freeman. Eds. Keavy Martin and Julie Rak, with Norma Dunning, 2016.

Mary Scorer Award for Best Book by a Manitoba Publisher, Manitoba Book Awards. For Life Among the Qallunnaat by Mini Aodla Freeman. Eds. Keavy Martin and Julie Rak, with Norma Dunning, April 2016.


2017: Eccles Centre Visiting Canadian Fellow in North American Studies Award. British Library and the British Association of American Studies (BAAS). For 'Animals and Machines: Inuit Traditional Knowledge as (New) Materialism.’ (£2500 GBP, approx. $4100)


Associate Editor, “Identities” thematic section, Oxford Encyclopedia of Literary Theory. General Editor, John Frow. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press. 25 articles.


What I Research

My main areas of research are auto/biography or life writing studies, English Canadian literature, and Canadian culture. I have secondary interests in print culture and book history, and social media.

I have written extensively on popular autobiography. With Keavy Martin, I edited a new (and improved) edition of Life Among the Qallunaat by Inuit author Mini Aodla Freeman, with the full participation of the author. I am writing a book about mountaineering expedition narratives and gender issues, and I have written and edited books about popular contemporary memoir, Canadian auto/biography and life writing, diaries, online identity and social media, and mountain masculinity. I'm a member of the Canadian Mountaineering Research Initiative at the University of Alberta, and I'm helping to organize its 2018 conference, Thinking Mountains, to be held at the Banff Centre.


I can supervise Ph.D theses in the following areas: autobiography and life writing; cultural studies and popular culture; English Canadian literature and book history. The Ph.D students I have supervised or am currently supervising are working in these areas: cancer narratives by women, Asian Canadian writing, Utopian landscape in feminist Canadian writing, Canadian women's political memoir, queer and race issues in Canadian writing, Canadian feminist science fiction, lifestyle blogging by women,  trans identity, Japanese Canadian writing about the internment, AAA games and the gaming industry, memoirs about sexual violence, the ethics of settler reading in Canadian literature an art. 

I have supervised M.A. theses and have evaluated M.A. projects in the following areas: Gender Identification Disorder and queer theory, Gertrude Stein and autobiography, blogs as corporate learning tools, mountaineering writing and Gilles Deleuze, blogs as identity projects, feminism and Louise Erdrich, mountaineering literature and postcolonial theory, Oprah Winfrey as a public intellectual, Aboriginal autobiography in North America, ecocriticism in Patrick Lane's work.  


My undergraduate teaching focuses on popular culture, autobiography,  critical theory (including gender and sexuality) and contemporary Canadian literature and cultural studies. In 2017-2018 I taught courses about autobiography, gender and sexuality theory, and Canadian literature. The last two graduate courses I taught were English 693 Auto/biography in Canada and English 693 Canadian comics.

I have supervised Honors Tutorials and directed readings on the following topics: trauma theory, Jacques Derrida, Alice Munro, Walter Benjamin and the city, mountaineering writing, Canadian women's autobiography, women's autobiography, postcolonial Canadian literature, utopian literature, gender and mainstream radio, queer horror fiction, social media and Baudrillard and digital fan fiction.