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Elizabeth Johnston Ambrose (PhD, 2005) is an American academic and creative writer who is noted for her cross-disciplinary contributions to the fields of Eighteenth-Century Studies, Gender Studies, and Popular Culture. Her work on literary, mythological, and cultural representations of female rivalry, maternity, monstrosity, and gender-based violence appear widely. A recipient of the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching (2014), she teaches courses in Women in Literature, Women in Popular Culture, Female Iconicity, and Girls Studies and is currently at work on a book-length project, Daughters of Medusa: A Study of Popular Female Icons from Antiquity to the 21st Century. In it, she traces the shifting iconicity of figures like Queen Elizabeth I, Pocahontas, Lilith and Eve, Little Red Riding Hood, Aunt Jemima, Marilyn Monroe, and Oprah, contrasting narratives of feminist writers like May Sarton, Helene Cixous, and Sylvia Plath with the popular and cinematic impulse to align female power with monstrosity. An excerpt of this project in which she discusses depictions of Medusa and Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election appeared in The Atlantic (November 2016). Work from this monograph also appears in Women Versed in Myth: Essays on Modern Women Poets (MacFarland, 2016) and Bad Girls and Transgressive Women in Popular Television, Fiction, and Film (Palgrave, 2017). In 2017, she received the SUNY Traveling Lecturer Award and traveled to Russia to lecture on Barbie and Medusa at St. Petersburg State University and Novgorod State University.
Elizabeth is also an accomplished poet, fiction-writer, playwright, and satirist whose creative writing is featured in journals like Women Studies Quarterly, Feminist Formations, Room, and McSweeney’s, as well as edited collections such as Veils, Halos, and Shackles: International Poetry on the Oppression and Empowerment of Women (Kasva Press, 2016) and Nasty Women Poets: An Unapologetic Collection of Subversive Verse (Lost Horse Press, 2017). In 2021, she won the prestigious Rattle Chapbook Poetry Prize for her book, Imago, Dei, a poetic exploration of the difficulties navigating female adolescence and sexuality within an evangelical upbringing. Her chapbook Wild Things, an eclectic collection of persona poems from the perspectives of mythological female characters like Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz, Tennyson’s The Lady of Shalott, and Persephone, as well as feminist commentary on media representations of women like Renee Zellweger and Natalee Holloway, is forthcoming from Main Street Rag (October 2021). Her poem “Delilah Scorned” was nominated for a coveted Pushcart Prize as was her short play, “Cinderella Snubs a Handout”; her short story, “Everything Bitter,” is also a Pushcart Prize nominee. Co-founder of the Rochester-based writing group Straw Mat Writers, she facilitates a writing-as-therapy group at the Rochester Breast Cancer Coalition, out of which grew an anthology of writing by survivors of breast cancer which she co-edited (Foothills Press, 2018).
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