Laura von Wallmenich

I research and teach early American literature, colonial through the late nineteenth century. I am fascinated by the role literature played in shaping American cultural identities, and as such, my approach to literature is highly interdisciplinary.  My research has focused largely on colonial and early national representations of Native Americans, and especially of whites captive to Native Americans.  I am also very interested in the rise of the novel, and the “translation” of the British novel to the American context of the late 18th century.

I also have teaching and research interests in:

  • African-American and Native-American literature, particularly in the role of literature in defining the ‘voice’ of marginalized communities;
  • Critical theory, especially narrative theory, New Historicism, and poststructuralism;
  • History of sexuality in Western culture, from the pre-modern to contemporary;
  • Popular culture and film studies, particularly feminist film theory, science fiction, and fantasy.


Associate Professor of English, American Studies Coordinator


English and American Studies

Educational Background

  • Ph.D., University of Washington (2000)
  • M.A., University of Washington
  • B.A., Colby College


Associate Professor

My career at Alma began in


I'm an expert in

early American literature.

Signature course(s):

ENG 360: Transatlantic 18th Century, ENG 367: African-American Literature,ENG 260: Survey of American Literature I, ENG 180: Tolkien’s World

Recent publications:

“When Words Fail Us: Mother Time, Relational Attention, and the Rhetorics of “Focus” and “Balance.”  Women’s Studies in Communication  37. 1 (2014): 66-89.

Recent presentations:

“Geographies of Desire: Mapping Brown’s Domestic Fiction.”  Ninth Biennial Conference of the Charles Brockden Brown Society.  Université Paris- Sorbonne.  Paris, France.  October 2013.

“Spectacles of Lack” Masculinity and Legal Authority in ‘Bartleby, the Scrivener’.” Michigan Academy.  Hope College, Holland, MI.  March 22, 2013.

with Joanne Gilbert.  “Mother Time, Other Time: The Rhetorical Costs of Focus and Balance.”  National Communication Association.  Orlando, FL. November 2012.

“Clarissa and Lovelace in America: Brown’s Ormond and the Disruption of Richardsonian Virtue.”  Seventh Biennial Charles Brockden Brown Society.  San Marino, CA.  October 2010.

Recent grants:

King Chavez Parks Grant, State of Michigan

I've led

Spring term courses to the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, home to the Oglala Lakota Nation.