About

I’m the department head of Diversity & Community Studies at Western Kentucky University. I also direct of the Gender & Women’s Studies Program and coordinate the M.A. in Social Responsibility & Sustainable Communities. My chapbook, Tree Forms, came out in 2011 by Finishing Line Press. My poems and stories have appeared in Nimrod, Poetry Northwest, The Beloit Fiction Journal, Adirondack Review, and Briar Cliff Review, among others. Most recently, my essay “The Weight of a Human Heart” won the grand prize in Memoir Journal‘s special gun issue. (Scroll down for more.)

You can reach me at jane.olmstedATSIGNwku.edu, or at 270.745-5787.

My Family Project (a project based on the letters and other writings of her mother and uncle) can be viewed here: http://bettybobhiatt.blogspot.com/

More about me, if you haven’t had enough:

I’ve been teaching GWS courses here at WKU since 1996 and became director of the Women’s Studies Program in 1998. For the past few years, much of my teaching has been online, and I’ve come to enjoy the format very much. It’s conventional wisdom that “online courses can’t replace f2f courses.” I don’t think we need to spend much time in that line of thinking. I enjoy the range of students we get in our online courses—from all over the country and with widely divergent backgrounds and interests. I’ve also been impressed with how academically sound the students are. Our discussions are challenging and stimulating. As someone trained in literary studies, I’ve also been impressed with how well our written discussions proceed—reflection, response, questioning, disagreeing, changing—it’s rewarding.

I’m thrilled that WKU’s first sustainability-focused master’s program went live Fall 2011. The M.A. in Social Responsibility & Sustainable Communities will be attractive to a broad swath of people—including our certificate seekers in gender & women’s studies. If you’re interested in applying, click on the link above, or give me a call.

I earned a Ph.D. in English, with a minor in feminist studies, at the University of Minnesota, in 1996. My scholarly work has focused on American, African American, and Native American literature, with an emphasis on race and gender, and I have articles in Contemporary Literature and African American Review, and another about Langston Hughes’ fiction that originally appeared in Black Orpheus and was reprinted in Short Story Criticism. My colleague Elizabeth Oakes and I founded and edited the Kentucky Feminist Writers Series, which led to three volumes, of poetry, fiction, and life writing. Telling Stories and I to I are still available. This series has been a tremendous experience and opportunity to meet some of the wonderful women writers who live in all parts of the Commonwealth.

I love my profession and believe strongly that social change is best served by people with a sound education (does not mean bland, regurgitated), with a keen understanding of how gender, race, class, and other elements of difference shape us as individuals and the worlds in which we live. I’m married to a professor of philosophy and religion at a community college about an hour from Bowling Green. We have three grandchildren and three sons, the youngest of whom was killed in the fall of 2009, an ongoing heartache for us—his family and friends. Our oldest received his MFA in ceramics at UF (go gators) in 2011 and is now working at a residency in Roswell Georgia, and our middle son has just started culinary arts school in Pasadena, where he is working as a cook.

The memorial for our son Casey can be viewed here: http://sites.google.com/site/caseyolmsted/home