Dr. Deborah Logan’s students are aware how culturally engaged she is when teaching, but few know how her travels, personal and professional endeavors, and research have shaped her instruction and lectures.
Logan remains busy since her arrival to the English Department in 1997. She is one of the most published members of our faculty, having written twenty-five multi-volume books with another forthcoming, as well as serving as Senior Editor and General Manager of Victorians Journal of Literature and Culture.
Formerly known as the Victorian Newsletter, one of the first changes Logan initiated when she took the reins in 2007 was to update the format from 1952, changing the size and shape to look like a “regular journal.” She then made it peer-reviewed, which has proven to be “time-consuming… People are busy so it’s really hard to arrange and navigate,” Logan reflects. She has also welcomed international scholars to the journal as well, making it a multi-faceted commentary on Victorian literature and culture.
Another culturally-focused literary work Logan devotes her time to is the forthcoming book, The Indian Ladies Magazine: Raj and Swaraj. The monograph studies this English-language magazine, written by Indian women, for Indian women, through its literary criticism, original poetry, stories, novelettes, serials, and dramas. The magazine seeks to empower women, strengthening them intellectually and engaging them in the independence movement. Altogether, Logan has traveled to India on six different occasions; she was awarded a Fulbright during the 2012 spring semester where she did research on Indian women writers and gave guest talks at universities throughout the country. She did additional research in Kolkata during the fall of 2013.
Her interest in India was sparked by a writer many students do not hear about, but Dr. Logan is working on changing that. “I became interested in India because of Harriet Martineau, who wrote extensively about India,” Logan confessed. “During the colonial era, Indian women’s English-language literature was very heavily influenced by Victorian literature—so there was a real direct connection for me.”
Logan was first introduced to the work of Harriet Martineau her first semester of graduate school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “I was so amazed by her accomplishments, and I wondered why I’d never heard of her before,” Logan recalls. As she explored the author’s history and collections of writing, Logan realized her academic career would be best spent reviving Martineau’s literary legacy. “So, a lot of what I’ve been doing is bringing some of her work back into print,” she reveals.
Logan edited Martineau’s letters, which she says was fun since Martineau “knew everybody who was anybody in the 19th century. I just did her letters, but there is a lot of correspondence back and forth from really famous authors and politicians.” The collections of letters, Logan says, are housed in around fifty archives throughout the world, most of which she has visited.
Logan integrates Martineau’s fiction and nonfiction into Victorian studies classes, “emphasizing the importance of recuperating women authors from obscurity. Martineau is also significant for her prominent role as an advocate for American abolitionism in Britain’s periodical press.”
What Logan does teach in her classes is much appreciated by students who have taken her courses in World Literature and Victorian Literature. “All of the works we read helped me develop a better understanding of literature in general, especially when dealing with gender roles and feminist themes,” remarks Jessica Smith, a senior English Literature major from Muhlenberg County, Kentucky, who took Logan’s Victorian Lit class her first semester at WKU. “I can honestly say that she helped me prepare for the rest of my time at the university with that class. She is engaging and assigns excellent, interesting reading material!”
In addition to the stimulating reading Logan assigns, students note what Bowling Green native and senior David Gifford calls her “global-mindedness.” Gifford recalls that, “particularly in her World Lit class, I really came to grasp the notion that literature isn’t made in a vacuum, and that it inevitably reflects the culture which produced it… Dr. Logan helped foster… viewing literature from a cultural perspective.”
Students next semester will get to experience this “global-mindedness” first-hand abroad with Dr. Logan at Harlaxton College, Grantham, England this coming fall. It will be her first teaching abroad venture. Her other upcoming projects include a new edition of Harriet Martineau’s first biography. “There are a lot of materials in there that have since been destroyed, so this is the only place that you can find it anywhere, on the planet. I’m excited about that!”
With her many accomplishments, contributions, teaching philosophies and cultural awareness, literature at WKU would not be the same without Dr. Deborah Logan. If you’re interested in taking a class abroad at Harlaxton College, be sure to visit here for more information!