Get involved in the things you are passionate about. The things I do, I do because they are important to me, and that makes me a good advocate for those issues.
- Laura Beard
My research interests focus mostly on contemporary narratives from women writers of the Americas (both North and South America), but I also work a lot on Indigenous literatures and cultures, and that work does not always focus on texts written by women. I frequently focus on life narratives, so texts that are autobiographical in some way.
My research focuses on a lot of identity issues – personal, cultural, national, sexual, gender, ethnic, and tribal identity issues. I would hope that my published work asks readers to reflect more thoughtfully and ethically on these issues, not just in the literature they read, but in their own lives and in their interactions with others around them.
Much of my inspiration comes from the amazing literary works that I read. Often what inspires me to write is a combination of a challenging theoretical issue – in terms of narrative or autobiographical theory – and a social justice issue at play in the text. So I am engaged on both levels with the text and want to work out what is going on there.
At Texas Tech, I have been active in the Lambda of Texas Chapter of the Phi Beta Kappa Society. I was serving as vice president and have recently been elected president of the chapter. I love working with Phi Beta Kappa because it is a great opportunity to be an advocate for excellence in the liberal arts and sciences, and that is one of my passions. I went to a small liberal arts college myself, so continuing to advocate for that mission, within our larger university, is important to me. I am an active member of the Teaching Academy and have done a lot of work with the TLTC, which is a great resource here on campus. I enjoy mentoring and promoting strong teaching, so those two venues are important to me. I also have enjoyed doing a lot of projects with the Cross-Cultural Academic Advancement Center – I was faculty liaison for that center – and with the Division of Institutional Diversity, Equity & Community Engagement. I enjoy being a diversity advocate on campus. Off campus, I volunteer at an elementary school, mostly reading with little kids.
My current project is a book on autobiographical narratives on the Indian residential schools. In both the U.S. and Canada, children were taken from their homes and communities and sent to boarding schools where the goal was to kill the Indian inside the child. These schools have had continuing reverberations in tribal communities.
Pick work that you are passionate about, because if you are passionate about your research, about your teaching, about your service projects, you are more likely to do a good job, more likely to stick with them, and more likely to inspire others.
I was born in Alaska, did my B.A. in English literature at Carleton College, in Northfield, Minnesota, and my M.A. and Ph.D. both in Hispanic Studies at The Johns Hopkins University, in Baltimore, Maryland. I taught at the University of Victoria, on Vancouver Island, in Canada, for a couple years, before coming to Texas Tech University.