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Tanya Heflin

Tanya HeflinAssistant Professor

Office: 201-H Leonard Hall
Phone: 724-357-7675


PhD, University of Southern California, 2009

Research and Teaching Interests

  • American literature and culture (late 19th century to contemporary)
  • Women’s literature, feminist theory, and gender studies
  • Autobiography theory, diary, memoir, and life narrative
  • Graphic memoir, outsider art, women’s hybrid self-representation (comics, scrapbook, collage, quilt, etc)
  • Narrative psychology, the unconscious, psychoanalytic & affect theories, subjectivity
  • Fairy tale, magical realism, myth, the fantastic, and the phantasmagoric
  • Indigenous literature and critical race studies
  • Archival research, manuscript and ephemera archives, building digital repositories
  • Narrative theory, the novel, hybrid narrative forms
  • Memoir, creative non-fiction, and the creative process in everyday life


Through my research, I seek to understand irruptions of the unconscious in literary, cultural, political, and everyday life. Recognizing the felt experience of psychological selfhood as having become a commonsense cultural category over the course of the late-nineteenth century through the contemporary period, I work to historicize its development and to interrogate our assumptions about it as a means of structuring individual subjectivity. Basing my work in texts that sit most clearly at the intersection of the literary and the psychological, I am interested in the interstitial, in-between, and oft-neglected hybrid texts of diary, scrapbook, collage, and comics, as well as modes of prose writing that include phantasy, magic, myth, memoir, and autobiography. One primary aim of my work endeavors to illuminate invisible assumptions regarding selfhood, particularly with respect to the works of underrepresented and marginalized groups in the Americas. From this perspective, the stakes of historicizing the psychological and recognizing its material effects serve to offer a much-needed counter-narrative to universalizing narratives of personhood in political and everyday life.

Research in Progress

  • Word, Line, Self: Graphic Approaches to Women’s Life Narrative, 1880-Today (book manuscript currently in progress)
  • The Women’s Diary Archive Project (digital humanities grant project under review)
  • Errant Daughters of Literature: Interiority, Indecency, and the Indigenous Presence in Life-Writing from the American West, 1880-1930 (book under peer review) 
  • “‘I am not homesick with the sky’: The Unpublished Diaries of Mary Hunter Austin” (article under peer review)
  • “‘The soul of a woman laid bare’: The Public Diaries of Mary MacLane” (article under peer review)

Literature and writing courses taught at IUP

  • ENGL 983: Seminar in American Literature: “Songs of the Self: The Autobiographical Impulse in American Literature”
  • ENGL 956: Literary Theory for the Teacher and Scholarly Writer 
  • ENGL 872/772: Topics in Women’s Literature: “Mystery and Manners: Fairy Tale, Magic, and the Uncanny in Women’s Literature”
  • ENGL 853/753: Literature as a Profession: “Seductive, Deceiving, Dangerous”
  • ENGL 340: The Novel: “Banned Books and Dangerous Fictions”
  • WMST 200: Introduction to Women’s Studies: “The Personal is Political”
  • ENGL 101: Composition I: “Writing to Be Read” and “1960s Culture and Counterculture”  

Honors Courses Taught at USC

  • “All You Need is Love: Utopian Values in Counterculture,” Honors Core 200
  • “Unstuck in Time: Experimental Time in Narrative,” Honors Core 112
  • “As Strange as It Seems: Carny-towns and Sideshows,” Honors Core 112
  • “Retro-Futurism, Steampunk, and the Aesthetic of an Imagined Future,” Honors Core 200
  • “Big Bad Wolves: Terror and Transformation in the Contemporary Fairy Tale,” Honors Core 112
  • “Mojo Risin’: Freedom and Decadence in California Counterculture,” Honors Core 112
  • “Reality Made Magical: Magical Realism and Surrealism in Literature and Art,” Honors Core 112
  • “Songs of the Self: Self-Construction in American Autobiography,” Honors Core 112 

Selected Service at IUP

  • Banned Books Week Read-Out (chair)
  • Doctoral Teaching Circle (chair)
  • Advisor to EGO, the English Graduate Organization
  • Committee memberships: Graduate Literature and Criticism Committee, TA Selection and Mentoring Subcommittees, Women’s Studies Committee, President’s Commission on the Status of Women at IUP, Department Promotions Committee, SGSR Student Research Awards Committee (CHSS representative) 
  • English Department
  • Leonard Hall, Room 110
    421 North Walk
    Indiana, PA 15705-1094
  • Phone: 724-357-2261
  • Fax: 724-357-2265
  • Office Hours
  • Monday through Friday
  • 8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
  • 1:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.