Joan Burbick was born in Chicago and has lived for the last thirty years on the West Coast. She received her B. A. from Boston College, an M. A. and Ph. D. from Brandeis University and a second M. A. from Wesleyan University.
She has written four books and co-edited a fifth volume in addition to publishing numerous articles and reviews on nineteenth and twentieth-century American literature and culture. Her writings include literary critiicism, cultural studies, nonfiction, and poetry.
She is Professor Emeritus of English at Washington State University where she held two endowed professorships in English and Liberal Arts. She has also been the Marta Sutton Weeks Fellow at the Stanford Humanities Center and a Andrew W. Mellon Fellow at the Center for Humanities, Wesleyan University.
She has presented papers throughout the United States, Europe, China, and the Middle East. Since the release of Gun Show Nation in the fall of 2006, she has given readings on gun culture throughout the United States, including the Harvard Medical School, The Friends Center in Philadelphia, and the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., She has also discussed her book on public radio stations in the United States, England and Austria. Recently, she has consulted with PBS on a special documentary on gun culture to be aired on Februray 19, 2013 at 9 pm ET.
In the spring of 2008, she was the Fulbright Distinguished Chair in American Studies at the American Studies Center, University of Warsaw, Poland. During this period, she give readings and lectures in both Poland and Germany. In the spring of 2009, she was the Distinguished Scholar-in-Residence in American Studies at Knox College, Galesburg, Illinois. In 2004, she was awarded a Rockefeller Foundation residency in Bellagio, Italy.
Her current writings are on violence and memory in the United States.