Burbick, Joan 1946-

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Burbick, Joan 1946-


Born June 20, 1946, in Chicago, IL; married Alex Kuo; children: one. Education: Boston College, B.A., Brandeis University, M.A., Ph.D.


Home—ID. Office—Department of English, Washington State University, P.O. Box 645020, Pullman, WA 99164-5020. Agent—Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency, PMB 515, 1155 Camino Del Mar, Del Mar, CA 92014.


Washington State University, Pullman, WA, Edward R. Meyer Professor of Liberal Arts, 1999, former Louise E. and Stella G. Buchanan Professor of English, currently professor of English and American studies. Visiting scholar, Knox College, Galesburgh, IL, c. 2004.


Norman Foerster Award, 1986; Marta Sutton Weeks fellow, Stanford Humanities Center; Andrew W. Mellon fellow, Center for Humanities at Wesleyan University.


Thoreau's Alternative History: Changing Perspectives on Nature, Culture, and Language, University of Pennsylvania Press (Philadelphia, PA), 1987.

Healing the Republic: The Language of Health and the Culture of Nationalism in Nineteenth-Century America, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 1994.

Rodeo Queens and the American Dream, Public Affairs Press (New York, NY), 2002.

Gun Show Nation: Gun Culture and American Democracy, New Press (New York, NY), 2006.

Contributor to professional journals.


Joan Burbick is an English professor whose primary interests are American nationalism and culture, as well as gender issues in the American West. In her book Healing the Republic: The Language of Health and the Culture of Nationalism in Nineteenth-Century America, Burbick focuses on the language of health in the first half of the nineteenth century in relation to the future of the republic and the role of its citizens. In a review in the Journal of English and Germanic Philology, Michael Newbury commented that the book "traces the intersecting discourses of health reform, medicine, science, and nationalism." Newbury added: "Burbick's book deserves particularly serious attention from anyone interested in the cultural history of medicine and health reform." Henry Golemba further reported in Criticism: "Her main thesis centers on how the discourse of medical, legal, political, and literary writings reveals cultural assumptions and anxieties as inscribed in the common flesh of the body in nineteenth-century America, especially as interpreted by its middle-class spokespersons and authorities." Golemba went on to note that the author "proffers a wealth of material interlaced smoothly across many textual disciplines."

Rodeo Queens and the American Dream focuses on regional history through interviews with Pacific Northwest women who were rodeo stars. The book tells these women's stories as it traces the history of female rodeo stars beginning in the 1930s, on through to the golden age of western rodeos in the 1950s and 1960s, and into the modern television age of big-time televised rodeos. In highlighting these women, the author shows the fundamental role they played in contributing to the rodeo, a role equal to their male counterparts. "Poignant and unique, these are personal stories that intersect with the history of our nation," according to Julie Hale in BookPage.

Burbick's Gun Show Nation: Gun Culture and American Democracy investigates the gun culture in America. To research the book, the author attended numerous gun trade shows and conventions and interviewed both attendees and exhibitors. She also interviewed lobbyists, government policy makers, and grassroots organizers. What she found is that for many Americans owning a gun is not just for hunting or self-defense but a political statement about the Second Amendment, which states the right for American citizens to bear arms. Furthermore, she writes about how the National Rifle Association and gun manufacturers try to present the image that gun owners are simply law-abiding citizens who are willing to take forceful action when necessary. A Publishers Weekly contributor noted that the author draws attention to "the prevalence of white, middle-aged men, misogyny and the paradoxical belief that the gun itself is capable of stopping violence." Mike Tribby, writing in Booklist, appreciated the author's "lively" style, and that Burbick "offers great insight into such contemporary political players as the NRA."



Booklist, September 15, 2006, Mike Tribby, review of Gun Show Nation: Gun Culture and American Democracy, p. 8.

Criticism, fall, 1995, Henry Golemba, review of Healing the Republic: The Language of Health and the Culture of Nationalism in Nineteenth-Century America, p. 638.

Journal of English and Germanic Philology, July, 1996, Michael Newbury, review of Healing the Republic, p. 459.

New Yorker, December 16, 2002, Lauren Porcaro, review of Rodeo Queens and the American Dream, p. 22.

Publishers Weekly, August 14, 2006, review of Gun Show Nation, p. 194.


BookPage,http://www.bookpage.com/ (December 18, 2006), Julie Hale, review of Rodeo Queens and the American Dream.

Buzz Flash,http://www.buzzflash.com/ (October 16, 2006), Scott Vogel, "Joan Burbick's ‘Gun Show Nation’ Explains How the ‘Gun Rights’ Movement Is a White Male Political Power Play," interview with Joan Burbick.

Knox College Web site,http://www.knox.edu/ (April 12, 2004), "Joan Burbick on Guns."

Seattle Times Online,http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/ (December 18, 2006), William Deitrich, "Queens of the West: The Real Stories of Rodeo's Royalty Rich Told," includes interview with Joan Burbick.

University of Washington Alumni Association Web site,https://ealumni.washington.edu/ (December 17, 2006), brief profile of Joan Burbick.

Washington State University, Department of English Web site,http://libarts.wsu.edu/english/ (December 18, 2006), faculty profile of Joan Burbick.