Alison Conway


English and Cultural Studies, Gender and Women's Studies
Other Titles: Associate Dean, Research, Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies - Irving K. Barber Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Office: ASC 449

Graduate student supervisor

Research Summary

Literary and cultural history of the long eighteenth century in Britain; narrative studies; and gender and sexuality theory.

Courses & Teaching

English; Gender & Women Studies


In 2018, I started teaching at UBCO after twenty-three years at the University of Western Ontario. I am the author of two books: Private Interests: Women, Portraiture, and the Visual Culture of the English Novel, 1709-1791 (2001) and The Protestant Whore: Courtesan Narrative and Religious Controversy in England, 1680-1750 (2010). I am co-editor, with Mary Helen McMurran, of Mind, Body, Motion, Matter: Eighteenth-Century British and French Literary Perspectives (2016), and co-editor, with David Alvarez, of Imagining Religious Toleration: a Literary History of an Idea, 1600-1830 (2019).

When I’m not writing books or teaching classes or helping out around the university, you can find me running, swimming, biking, or reading contemporary fiction. Since 2017, I’ve been writing, as a guest contributor for the blog, Fit is a Feminist Issue, about how my late immersion into the world of sport has shaped my thinking about feminism, politics, and the body.

I’m the partner of a university administrator and we’re parents of a son and a daughter, now young adults. My children have taught me a lot and I’ve written about those lessons here.


PhD, University of California, Berkeley, 1994; MA, York University, 1988; BA, UBC, 1987

Research Interests & Projects

My current research focuses on interfaith marriage and the eighteenth-century novel. This project, tentatively titled, Sacred Engagements: Religious Toleration, Interfaith Marriage, and the British Novel, 1750-1820, examines how authors of the period approached controversies around faith and authority in narratives about the family. The cultural commentary sustained by the novel on this subject, I suggest, provides a window into our understanding of religious freedom, toleration, and the status of women in the age of Enlightenment. Essays relating to this project have appeared in LICO, Lumen, Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature, and Reflections on Sentiment: Essays in Honour of George Starr. You can listen to a UBCO Library Frequencies podcast about my current research here.

Selected Grants & Awards

Marilyn Robinson Award for Excellence in Teaching (1999)

Bank of Nova Scotia, UWO Alumni Association and the University Students’ Council Award of Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching (2000)

William Andrews Clark Memorial Library Fellowship (2000)

Huntington Library Fellowships (1999, 2012)

Graham and Gale Wright Distinguished Scholar Award (2012)

Western’s Fellowship in Teaching Innovation, with Dr. M. McDayter (2013)

Western’s Faculty Scholar Award (2015)

SSHRC Standard Research (2000-3), Insight (2015-19), and Connections (2016-17) grants


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