Queer theory and a love of reading

PROFile: Heather Milne, associate professor, Department of English, U of W

Keeley Braunstein-Black

Heather Milne became an associate professor at the University of Winnipeg after completing a bachelor’s degree, master of arts and PhD in English.

“I’ve always had a love of reading ... (my studies) seemed to be a way that I could put my love of reading to good use,” Milne says.

As a “queer-identified person,” Milne focuses on queer theory often, although she points out that it was not the topic of her dissertation.

“I’ve been involved in gender studies and thinking about questions around gender and sexuality in my work,” she says.

Milne currently teaches a class called Queer Literature, Culture, and Theory. When she first took on the course, it was titled “Twentieth Century Lesbian and Gay Literature,” but she changed the title after a couple years. 

“I didn’t want to limit it to 20th century, and I didn’t want to limit it to gay and lesbian,” Milne says. “Because, of course, there are other kinds of queer identities to talk about!”

What is something that you’ve learned from your students?

One thing that I really learn from my students, particularly in my queer-themed classes, is just how a younger generation is really thinking about gender differently and opening up all kinds of spaces to inhabit non-binary genders.”

What’s the best thing about your work?

“I get paid to read! I love to read. It’s amazing. And also, I love teaching. I love just the energy of a classroom. I will be really happy to get back into the physical space of the classroom because ... there’s something about the magic of the classroom that I’m really yearning for right now.”

If you could have any superpower, what would it be?

“Just this morning, I went for a cross-country ski on the river, and I began to get tired, and I found myself wishing that I could have endless endurance.”

Published in Volume 75, Number 17 of The Uniter (February 3, 2021)

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