USM Faculty Commons

Libra Professor Annette Kolodny

Event Date and Time: 
Tuesday, April 8, 2014, 7:30 PM to 8:30 PM
Wishcamper, Lee Auditorium, USM Portland Campus

Papal Bulls, Wishful Wonder, and the Many Fictions of the Doctrine of Discovery


This lecture draws on Penobscot texts, including a tale from oral tradition told to Dr. Kolodny by Penobscot Nation elder James Sappier, to examine legal bases for early European claims about the discovery of North America. Early explorers’ narratives assert that they "discovered" lands previously unknown (and unclaimed by) any Christian, but Eastern Algonquian stories of first contact undercut these descriptions of "wonder" and undermine the European assertions.


Annette Kolodny

College of Humanities Professor Emerita of American Literature and Culture

University of Arizona


AK BOOK IMAGE In Search of First Contact: The Vikings of Vinland, the Peoples of Dawnland, and the Anglo-America Anxiety of Discovery by Annette Kolodny

The arrival and impact of the Vikings in North America from the perspectives of American studies, indigenous and Native American studies, and American literary studies.

Learn more.



Book Signing: There will be a book signing during the open public reception from 6:30pm to 7:30pm in Atrium in the Wishcamper Center right outside the Lee Auditorium (133 Wishcamper). Free parking available in the attached garage.



Tuesday, April 8, 2014

  • Book Signing & Reception: 6:30 to 7:30 - Wishcamper Atrium
  • Lecture: 7:30 pm - Wishcamper, Lee Auditorium, USM Portland Campus



Event Sponsors

University of Maine Libra Professor Fund, University of Southern Maine Department of English, USM Faculty Commons, Women and Gender Studies Program, American and New England Studies Program, Department of History and Political Science, Department of Geography-Anthropology.


Learn more about the Libra Professorship.


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Reach out to Annette Kolodny                                                                                       



Annette KolodnyImage2Annette Kolodny

College of Humanities Professor Emerita of American Literature and Culture

University of Arizona

Ever since her 1960s graduate student days at the University of California, Berkeley, Annette Kolodny has combined political activism in the Civil Rights, women’s, and environmental movements with a scholarly scrutiny of American culture and its discontents. Her first two books are considered landmarks in the fields of ecocriticism and frontier studies; each examines the developing mythology of the western frontiers. The Lay of the Land: Metaphor as Experience and History in American Life and Letters (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1975; rpt. 1984) concerns itself with Euroamerican male fantasy projections onto the successive “virgin” wildernesses. The Land Before Her: Fantasy and Experience of the American Frontiers, 1630-1860 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1984) offers the first comprehensive study of white women's responses to the pioneering experience, analyzing not only personal documents like letters and diaries but published novels, poetry, and promotional tracts, as well. Dr. Kolodny’s essay “Dancing Through the Minefield: Some Observations on the Theory, Practice, and Politics of a Feminist Literary Criticism” was awarded the Florence Howe Prize for Feminist Criticism in 1979 and has since been translated and reprinted worldwide, becoming the most anthologized essay in the field. Throughout her career, she has continued to publish actively in the fields of feminist literary criticism and critical theory, ecocriticism, frontier studies, and early American literature and culture. In 1993 Dr. Kolodny was elected to lifetime membership in the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters; the fruits of her study of the connections between Scandinavian and American literatures are apparent in her 2012 book In Search of First Contact: The Vikings of Vinland, the Peoples of the Dawnland, and the Anglo-American Anxiety of Discovery.


During her long career, Dr. Kolodny has held faculty positions at Yale University, the University of British Columbia, the University of New Hampshire, the University of Maryland, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and the University of Arizona.


From 1988 through 1993, Dr. Kolodny took on the challenges of academic administration by becoming Dean of the College of Humanities at the University of Arizona. As a result of her experience in administration, Dr. Kolodny now also writes about higher education issues and, as a consultant, works with schools across the country and around the world to effect positive change on campus. In 1998, Duke University Press published Failing the Future: A Dean Looks at Higher Education in the Twenty-first Century, Dr. Kolodny’s study of higher education public policy issues.


Her books and essays have garnered numerous awards both in the United States and abroad, and she is the recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Ford Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, and others. In 1998, she was the first woman to be named an Honored Scholar by the Division on Early American Literature in the Modern Language Association (MLA). In October 2002, she received the Distinguished Achievement Award from the Western Literature Association. At its annual meeting in December 2002, the American Literature Section of the MLA awarded Dr. Kolodny the prestigious Jay B. Hubbell Medal for outstanding lifetime scholarly achievement in American literary and cultural studies. In October 2006 the Society of Early Americanists honored Dr. Kolodny for “Excellence in Teaching” based on her “important contributions to the lives and careers” of her many students over the years. In 2012 the Western Literature Association again honored her for her teaching, awarding her the Susan J. Rosowski Award for Outstanding Teaching and Creative Mentoring in Western American Literary Studies. Several national prizes in ecocriticism and feminist studies have recently been named for her; and her work has been the subject of many conferences and conference sessions here and abroad.


At the University of Arizona, after stepping down as Dean, she held the title of College of Humanities Professor of American Literature and Culture. In 2001 the Graduate and Professional Student Council named her “Outstanding Faculty Mentor of Graduate Students.” In 2002 she received the “Dean’s Distinguished Teaching Award with Sustained Contributions to Mentoring” from the College of Humanities.


Her recent research on Native American stories about first contacts with Europeans uncovered a lost masterpiece of Native American literature written and self-published by Penobscot elder Joseph Nicolar in 1893. Nicolar’s work, The Life and Traditions of the Red Man, was reprinted by Duke University Press in 2007, edited, annotated, with a history of the Penobscot Nation and an introduction by Annette Kolodny.


On June 30, 2007, Dr. Kolodny retired from the University of Arizona, becoming Professor Emerita. Despite retirement, Dr. Kolodny continues her active schedule of conference appearances and guest lectures. Her most recent publications concentrate on the fields of Native American Studies, ecocriticism, and transnational American studies. In 2012 she published In Search of First Contact: The Peoples of the Dawnland, the Vikings of Vinland, and the Anglo-American Anxiety of Discovery (Durham: Duke University Press), named by Indian Country Today as one of the twelve most important books in Native American studies published in 2012. This book was also selected by the Western Literature Association for the 2013 Thomas Lyon Award as “the best book in Western literary and cultural studies published in 2012.”



Libra Professorship


The Libra Professorship was established in 1989 by the University of Maine System Board of Trustees in partnership with philanthropist Elizabeth Noyce and the Libra Foundation.


The Professorship enables the University to invite nationally and internationally recognized scholars who engage with faculty and students and exemplify excellence in their respective discipline.


Recent Libra Professors include:



  • Dr. John Lechner, in conjunction with ASET's Center for Toxicology and Environmental Health
  • Dr. Mark Albion, in conjunction with the School of Business
  • Drs. Margaret Wheatley, Henry Giroux, Sonia Nieto, Stephen Brookfield, in conjunction with the College of Education and Human Development
  • Professor Lateef Mtina, in conjunction with the School of Law



  • Drs. Janaki Rajan, Sonia Nieto, Stephen Brookfield, in conjunction with the School of Education and Human Development



  • Drs. Ulrick Jean-Pierre, Aurelia Jean Pierre, Kristen Renwick Monroe, in conjunction with the School of Education and Human Development



  • Professor Anna Welch, in conjunction with the School of Law