I defended my PhD in December of 2014. My supervisor was Dr. Cressida J. Heyes, the Canada Research Chair in the Philosophy of Gender and Sexuality. My dissertation, entitled “Habits of Resistance: Feminism, Phenomenology, and Temporality” was the subject of an episode of CBC radio’s Ideas in February, 2015.
My main area of research is habit: how to change habits, how habits constitute our selves, and different methods of habit acquisition and change. I am interested in understanding the different ways in which we have, develop, and change habits and how the meaning that we attach to them affects the difficulty or ease with which we can change them. My interests include but are not limited to ethics, political philosophy, literature, French philosophy, feminism, postmodern philosophy, psychoanalysis, modern and late modern philosophy, existentialism, and phenomenology.
When I began work in feminist philosophy I was preoccupied with the problem of essentialism, which I took to be parasitic on debates about the freedom of the will: if we are determined by an essence (i.e., “femininity”) then how can we be free? In my research I approach problems of agency for feminism in terms of habit because it avoids the free will/determinism binary and allows for an embodied analysis of freedom. How habit operates in our experiences of action and motivation is an open philosophical question. The literature on habit both acknowledges the grip that habits can have on us (“creatures of habit”) and to acknowledge that habituation is a locus of change. I ground my research in feminist philosophy in order to understand the difficulties we face when trying to change our selves is co-constituted with gender normativity. By exploring the role of habits in gender constitution I center the subject trying to change her life in light of the tensions between her ingrained habits and her changing political commitments.
I am originally from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan where I received a Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy with high honours and recognition in French (2005) and a Master’s of Arts degree (2007). In my master’s research I investigated the charges of biological essentialism levelled against Simone de Beauvoir in the Anglo-American philosophical reception of her work. I gave a phenomenological re-reading of the chapter on biology in The Second Sex.
In 2010, I was awarded a graduate student teaching award for excellence in teaching from the faculty of arts at the University of Alberta. I currently teach philosophy at the University of Alberta and Grant MacEwan University and Women’s and Gender Studies and Philosophy at the University of Alberta. I also teach political science and cultural studies at Athabasca University.