Professor Comer is a scholar of contemporary literature and cultural politics with interdisciplinary interests in problems of place, space and their theorization. She writes both traditional scholarship as well as, in recent years, more public-facing scholarship, meaning work accessible to a broad audience that reports on research dedicated to social action.
Her scholarly writing includes Landscapes of the New West: Gender and Geography in Contemporary Women’s Writing (UNC,1999), and Surfer Girls in the New World Order (Duke, 2010). She guest-edited a double special issue of Western American Literature (2013), highlighting innovative conceptual work from junior scholars. She co-edited, with Susan Bernardin, “On the Occasion of the 50th Anniversary,” another special issue of Western American Literature (2018) featuring the many-stranded pasts and possible futures of western American literary and cultural studies. Professor Comer has published widely in the essay form, including recent pieces about problems of whiteness in feminist Westerns, the possibilities of being good neighbors through Indigenous and settler collaborations, the theory tool-kits of standpoint and situated knowledge for Feminist Wests, feminist critical regional frameworks for Global Wests and settler colonialism, feminist place-based worlding projects, and critical ethnography for public scholarship.
In 2014, Professor Comer co-founded the Institute for Women Surfers (IWS), an international grassroots political education initiative in the Public Humanities. The institute has conducted trainings in California, Europe (Wales), and Oceania (Australia). An IWS International postponed due to the pandemic is slated for a gathering in 2022. For an example of writing that documents IWS work, see "Surfeminism in an Era of Trump."
Professor Comer has two book projects in progress:
- Living West as Feminists: Conversations About the Where of Us (University of Nebraska Press). Commencing in summer of 2021, an interview-based book project in public-facing scholarship that puts feminist U.S. Western scholars into conversation with one another about how scholars live their feminisms, and live their relation to places and land. Each participant chooses a place of significance. In those places, we sit down for a time; we talk. We take up the vexed terms, "feminism," "whiteness," and "the West," and work in spite of them. Beyond the famous conflicts of feminism, the larger hope is to nurture whatever we share, to learn from cross-cutting histories, to create "Rest Areas" or places of well-being and security across all kinds of trouble. Follow along on our feminist road trip through the new blog, FeministWests.
- Surfeminist Futures is a public-facing work about surfeminism as a located global ecopolitics based in the knowledges and international relationship networks of the Institute for Women Surfers. This project is paused until international travel becomes viable.
Professor Comer teaches literature, culture, and theory courses with an emphasis in interdisciplinary approaches informed by critical race, Indigenous, and feminist thought. Recent courses include the Senior Seminar & Research Workshop, Youth Studies & Protest in the Time of COVID, Literary Houston (undergraduate, public-facing research), The U.S. West and its Others/Borders, Asian American Cultural Forms, and Feminist Engaged Research Methodologies. Graduate seminars include Theories of Critical Regionalism, and Matters of Space: Place Ethics Under Globalization.
Professor Comer works closely with the American Studies Association (ASA) and the Western Literature Association (WLA), serving as WLA president in 2003, and serving now, a term on the executive council. Professor Comer served as magister of Baker College from 2004-2010, inaugural magister of Duncan College in 2010, magister of Brown College from 2013-2018.
Ph.D., American Studies, Brown University,1996
M.A., American Studies, Brown University, 1990
B.A., Women's Studies, Wellesley College, 1988