Professional Biography

I have been teaching literature and drama, writing, and critical theory for close to twenty years--first as a graduate student at the University of Michigan, where I earned my Ph.D and the Myatt Distinguished Dissertation Award; then at Washington and Lee University, where I spent one year as Visiting Assistant Professor; and finally here at Marymount University, my professional home since 2006. My research agenda focuses on eighteenth-century British literature and culture, popular forms of embodied performance, and digital humanities (in general, the use of technology to enhance research in traditional fields of humanistic inquiry). For the past three years, I have been developing from the ground up an open-source and open-access digital anthology of primary source materials for the study of the eighteenth-century novel in English. Since beginning work on this XQL database application, I have co-authored a digital humanities advancement grant for the development of Literature in Context: An Open Anthology, which is currently being evaluated by the National Endowment for the Humanities. I have published a variety of materials on topics ranging from teaching and silent film of the 1920s, to eighteenth-century "posture-masters" and the popular performance genre of farce, to farcical contemporary horror film. In each case, these publications grow directly out of my teaching. I also share my work regularly at regional, national, and international professional conferences.

Dr. Tonya Howe

Associate Professor of English

Marymount University


My service commitments, both to Marymount and the wider scholarly community, have been significant. In my first years after joining the Marymount community, I was awarded the Arts & Sciences Recognition Award for Service, and since then, I have continued this work. From 2011-2015, I served as the Co-Director and then Director of our graduate program in English and Humanities, and I have led our department in four national hiring searches, each of which generated, on a conservative average, 500 applications. I served on and chaired the Graduate Studies, the Rank & Tenure, and the Faculty Employment & Benefits committees, among others. I am a founding member of the Digital Humanities Caucus of the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies (and its president for the past three years), the Digital Humanities Section Editor for ABO: An Interactive Journal for Women in the Arts 1640-1830, and, significantly, Marymount's delegate to the Virginia Humanities Conference for the past five years. In 2015, I served as that organization's president, bringing nearly 100 undergraduate, graduate, and professional speakers to campus for our annual meeting organized around the theme of the Humanities in the Public Sphere. Open to the Arlington community, this event drew a number of non-academic attendees. During the summer of 2016, I co-created a well-reviewed Capital Fringe production, How to Give Birth to a Rabbit, based in part on my research into the story of the eighteenth-century woman Mary Toft.

In over a decade at Marymount, I have taught a notably wide range of courses. Among the 31 different courses, course versions, and independent studies I have taught, I have created and redesigned several. Since earning tenure, I have taught a similar array. My courses ask students to interact with special collections materials, attend live performances, give live performances, travel abroad, contribute to Wikipedia pages, make critical video analyses, websites, and more. I have led Honors tutorials and mentored many students, both graduate and undergraduate, to present their research in public forums. In each of my courses, I challenge my students to move beyond their comfort zones, to focus their writing and research skills, and to believe that with hard work we can do astonishing things with our minds.

Please note that this promotion application incorporates work done during the "gap year," when my prior application for tenure and promotion to Associate Professor was being evaluated.