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Dr. Laura Fisher

Associate Professor
EducationPhD, New York University
Areas of ExpertiseAmerican literature and culture; urban literature and culture; history of books and reading; social reform and protest writing; gender, race, class, and social mobility; minor genres


Dr. Fisher is an associate professor in the Department of English at Toronto Metropolitan University, where she teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in American Literature and the literature and culture of cities. Her research in nineteenth- and twentieth-century U.S. literature explores questions of race, class, gender, and self-making within and across multiple sites of urban modernity.

Fisher’s first book, Reading for Reform: The Social Work of Literature in the Progressive Era (University of Minnesota Press, 2019) offers a literary history of social reform institutions in the United States. A new book, funded by a SSHRC Insight Development Grant, examines the largely forgotten genre of sociological fiction in U.S. literary history—a genre alternately named the “economic novel,” the “social novel,” and the “research novel.” Her research has been published in American LiteratureJournal of Modern LiteratureMELUS, and Modern Language Quarterly.

In addition to her scholarly writing, Fisher writes cultural criticism on such topics as riot grrrl, popular music and culture, and contemporary literature for publications such as The Guardian, The New InquiryAvidly—Los Angeles Review of Books, and Public Books. She has also produced a digital and public humanities project entitled City of Words, which she uses as a tool for teaching urban literatures in Toronto and beyond.

Selected Publications

Reading for Reform: The Social Work of Literature in the Progressive Era. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2019

“Quiet Storm: Why Juliana Hatfield’s Hey Babe roared as loud as the riot grrrls.” The Guardian, March 31, 2018

“Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s Novel Aesthetics.” MLQ: Modern Language Quarterly 78.4 (November 2017)

“Immigration’s Daughters.” Public Books, September 27, 2017

“Possible Futures and Grammatical Politics in James Baldwin’s Another Country.” JML: Journal of Modern Literature 41.4 (Fall 2017)

“Head and Hands Together: Booker T. Washington’s Vocational Realism.” American Literature 87.3 (December 2015)

“Carrie Brownstein Gives Me a Heart Attack.” Avidly—Los Angeles Review of Books, December 15, 2015

“Sparkle, Shirley, Sparkle!” The New Inquiry, March 3, 2014

“Minor Feelings.” The New Inquiry, July 1, 2013

“Writing Immigrant Aid: The Settlement House and the Problem of Representation.” MELUS: Multi-Ethnic Literature of the United States 37.2 (Summer 2012)