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Deena Rymhs

Acting Director

Research Interests

My research and teaching of Indigenous literature are informed by the environmental humanities, gendered histories of colonization, and theories of biopower. My recent book, Roads, Mobility, and Violence in Indigenous Literature and Art from North America, explores racialized and gendered experiences of mobility through a selection of writing and visual art by Marie Clements, Marilyn Dumont, Tomson Highway, Leanne Simpson, Richard Van Camp, Kent Monkman, and Louise Erdrich. Building on Raymond Williams’s observation that “traffic is not only a technique; it is a form of consciousness and a form of social relations,” this book pulls into focus sexual, racial, and environmental violence localized around roads. Roads are spaces of complex signification, and their ties to colonial violence reveal how biopolitics are infrastructural. Along with exploring these fraught histories of mobility, I consider ways in which Indigenous communities have transformed roads into sites of political resistance and social memory.

My first book, From the Iron House: Imprisonment in First Nations Literature (2008), examines narratives of incarceration in Indigenous writing. Drawing on prison memoirs, residential school accounts, prison serials, and collections of prisoners’ writing, this book looks at Indigenous authors’ uses of form while emphasizing the power of self-narration to refuse discourses of guilt. In the range of topics it addresses, From the Iron House contributes to Indigenous studies, life writing criticism, gender theory, critical legal studies, and public policy. Taken as a whole, my work sheds light on how forced and elected mobility, land dispossession, resource extraction, and persistent practices of segregation have affected Indigenous communities—and, just as importantly, the powerful work of literature and art as modes of representation and re-worlding. 


2016-2017 Sproul Fellowship, Univerisity of California, Berkeley

2013-2016 SSHRC Insight Grant

2006-2009 SSHRC Standard Research Grant

2022-2023 Humanities Research Institute Fellowship

Awards and Honors

Listed as Teachers Ranked Excellent (2021, 2022)

Gabrielle Roy Prize in English Literary Criticism Honorable Mention for monograph, From the Iron House

Additional Campus Affiliations

Professor, Unit for Criticism and Interpretive Theory
Professor, Department of English

Recent Publications

Rymhs, D. (2022). Casualties of Modernism: The Affects and Afterlives of Kent Monkman's Automobiles. In K. Brown, S. Ross, & A. Sayers (Eds.), The Routledge Handbook of North American Indigenous Modernisms (pp. 154-165). (Routledge Literature Handbooks). Routledge.

Rymhs, D. (2019). Roads, Mobility, and Violence in Indigenous Literature and Art from North America. (Routledge Studies in World Literatures and the Environment). Routledge.

Rymhs, D. M. (2018). Indigenous Internationalisms. In A. Pendakis, I. Szeman, & J. Diamanti (Eds.), The Bloomsbury Companion to Marx (pp. 515-522). (Bloomsbury Companions). Bloomsbury Academic.

Rymhs, D. (2018). Indigenous Internationalisms. In The Bloomsbury Companion to Marx (pp. 515-521). Bloomsbury Publishing Plc..

Rymhs, D. (2018). Transit Spaces and the Mobility Poor in Marilyn Dumont's Vancouver Poems. Cultural Critique, 101, 102-130.

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