Born and raised in Ohio, Crystal M. Kurzen earned her Bachelor’s Degree from Anderson University, a small liberal arts college in central Indiana, in 1999 and went on from there to work in the publishing industry for Bantam Dell in New York City for a few years before returning to graduate school. She earned a M.A. from The Ohio State University in Comparative Studies in 2004 where she taught introductory courses on literature and writing in the humanities and began her research on autobiography studies. She most recently earned her Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin.
While there, she held the Florence Durrett Endowed Presidential Fellowship as well as a Presidential Excellence Postdoctoral Fellowship in the Department of English. She also earned a Graduate Portfolio, or minor, in Mexican American Studies. She taught a variety of classes while at UT, including those offered by the Center for Mexican American Studies, on such topics as ethnic American literatures, Mexican American Literature and Culture (for which she earned the Department of English’s Outstanding Graduate Assistant Instructor Award), and Latina/o literatures. She also had the opportunity to teach a course on film, which was entitled “Gender, Class, and Ethnicity in American Literature and Film.” In this course, students considered the ways in which authors and filmmakers use archetypes, national mythology, and cultural hierarchies to inform an audience’s views on gender, class, and ethnicity in the United States.
Her current book project, Literary Nepantla: Genre and Method in Contemporary Chicana/o Life Narratives, grows out of her dissertation and focuses on the ways in which contemporary Chicana/os, such as Sheila Ortiz Taylor, Sandra Ortiz Taylor, Pat Mora, Michele Serros, Luis Alberto Urrea, and Denise Chávez, narrate self and community through multi-textual, multi-generic modes based primarily in practices of reconceptualizing conventional forms of autobiography. Her article on Pat Mora recently appeared in the journal a/b: Auto/Biography Studies, and her work on Native American women’s autobiography is forthcoming in The Oxford Handbook of Indigenous American Literatures. Currently, she teaches courses in literature and composition as well as contemporary ethnic American literatures at Washington College.
Outside of the classroom, Crystal enjoys yoga, shopping at the Farmers’ Market, travel, cooking, and gardening. She very much looks forward to learning how to kayak and hopes to take advantage of all the Eastern Shore has to offer.
- Ph.D. in English, University of Texas at Austin, 2011
- M.A. in Comparative Studies, The Ohio State University, 2004
- B.A. in English & Spanish, summa cum laude, Anderson University, 1999
Honors And Affiliations
- Presidential Excellence Postdoctoral Fellowship, Department of English, University of Texas at Austin, 2011-2012
- Outstanding Graduate Assistant Instructor, Department of English, University of Texas at Austin, 2010
- Florence Durrett Endowed Presidential Scholarship, University of Texas at Austin, 2009-2010
- Annette Kolodny Award, The Women’s Caucus for the Modern Languages, Modern Language Association Conference, 2009
- Dissertation Fellowship, Department of English, University of Texas, 2009
- Modern Language Association
- The Autobiography Society
Research And Teaching Areas
- Chicana/o Literature & Latina/o Literatures
- 20th & 21st Century Ethnic American Literatures
- Life Narrative & Autobiography Studies
- Literature & Composition
- Cultural Studies
- Women’s Studies
“Pat Mora’s Literary Nepantla: Blueprints for a Word-House Refuge.” a/b: Auto/Biography Studies 26.2 (Winter 2011): 342-63.
“Towards a Native American Women’s Autobiographical Tradition: Genre as Political Practice.” The Oxford Handbook of Indigenous American Literatures. Eds. James H. Cox and Daniel Heath Justice. New York: Oxford UP. Forthcoming.
Work In Progress
Literary Nepantla: Genre and Method in Contemporary Chicana/o Life Narratives (A study that focuses on the ways in which contemporary Chicana/os, such as Sheila Ortiz Taylor, Sandra Ortiz Taylor, Pat Mora, Michele Serros, Luis Alberto Urrea, and Denise Chávez, relate self and community from the liminal spaces of nepantla through multi-textual, multigeneric modes based primarily in strategies of reconceptualizing conventional autobiography.)