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Fisher, Laura


Associate Professor


BA Honours (McGill); MA and PhD (New York)




416 979 5000 ext 2149

Email Address:


I’m an associate professor in the Department of English at Ryerson University, where I teach undergraduate and graduate courses in American literature and the literature and culture of cities. My research in nineteenth- and twentieth-century U.S. literature explores questions of race, class, gender, and self-making within and across multiple sites of urban modernity. My first book,Reading for Reform: The Social Work of Literature in the Progressive Era (University of Minnesota Press, 2019) offers a literary history of social reform institutions in the United States. Reading for Reform shows how efforts to Americanize immigrants, refine working-class women, and uplift African American students fundamentally changed the dynamics of literary production and circulation at the turn of the twentieth century. A new book, funded by a SSHRC Insight Development Grant, examines the largely forgotten genre of sociological fiction in U.S. literary history—a genre alternately named the “economic novel,” the “social novel,” and the “research novel.” My research has been published in American LiteratureJournal of Modern LiteratureMELUS, and Modern Language Quarterly. I also write cultural criticism on such topics as riot grrrl, popular music and culture, and contemporary literature for publications such as The New InquiryAvidly—Los Angeles Review of Books, and Public Books. I have additionally produced a digital and public humanities project entitled City of Words, which I use as a tool for teaching urban literatures in Toronto and beyond.


Research Interests:

Nineteenth- and twentieth-century American literature and culture; urban literature and culture; African American literature and culture; Jewish American literature and culture; realism, naturalism, and modernism; literary recovery; history of books and reading; social reform and social protest; girlhood and U.S. culture; gender, race, class, and social mobility; minor genres.