CANTON -- St. Lawrence University Dana Professor of Canadian Studies Robert Thacker is co-editor of a new book, Willa Cather: A Writer's Worlds, published by the University of Nebraska Press. Volume 8 in the series Cather Studies, it was co-edited by John J. Murphy and Françoise Palleau-Papin.
The essays in the book, which include a contribution by Thacker, explore the many locales and cultures informing Cather's fiction.
A lifelong Francophile, Cather first visited France in 1902 and returned repeatedly throughout her life.
Her visits to France influenced not only her writing but also her interpretation of other worlds: for example, while visiting the American Southwest in 1912, a region that informed her subsequent works, she first viewed that landscape through the prism of her memories of Provence.
But her worlds extended far beyond France, or even geographical locations. The book pairs Cather innovatively with additional influences - theological, aesthetic, even gastronomical - and examines her as tourist and traveler, cautiously yet assiduously exploring a diverse range of places, ethnicities and professions.
Thacker is the author of The Great Prairie Fact and Literary Imagination and the co-editor of Cather Studies, Volume 4: Willa Cather's Canadian and Old World Connections (Nebraska 1999). A member of the St. Lawrence faculty since 1983, he is a graduate of Bowling Green State University, earned a master's degree from the University of Waterloo and the Ph.D. from the University of Manitoba.
Thacker is the editor of The Rest of the Story: Critical Essays on Alice Munro (1999) and was awarded a grant from the Canadian Embassy in Washington, D.C., to support research on the only Munro biography that has ever had the cooperation of the author, Alice Munro: Writing Her Lives, published in 2005.
Research for the book was also supported by a Molson Fellowship awarded to Thacker. Winner of the Owen D. Young Outstanding Faculty Member award as voted by the senior class in 2002, as well as the J. Calvin Keene Award in 2006, Thacker has been associate dean for academic advising since 2005.
Murphy is a professor emeritus at Brigham Young University; Palleau-Papin teaches American literature at the Université de la Sorbonne Nouvelle.