Gertrude Bell with King Faisal and company at picnic in 1922

Gertrude Bell and Jessica of Dune: Influencers in the Halls of Power

The parallels between the life of Gertrude Bell, British archaeologist and writer, and the character Lady Jessica in Frank Herbert’s Dune make for an interesting study of how women can successfully carry themselves in unfamiliar territory and exert influence. Although T.E. Lawrence (1888 – 1935) is more well-known, in no small part due to the popular movie based on his time in the Middle East (Lawrence of Arabia (1962)), Gertrude Bell (1868 – 1926) was a significant Western figure in the Middle East in the 20th century and arguably more extraordinary in terms of her influence. Known as a queen or daughter of

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Dune Talk podcast video title card

Podcast Interview on the Bene Gesserit of Dune

I’ve been researching and writing about the women of the Bene Gesserit Sisterhood of Frank Herbert’s Dune for a while, but haven’t had the opportunity to discuss it verbally much outside of conferences. So I was appreciative of Dune Talk – A Dune News Net Show for the chance to be interviewed on their podcast and talk about my favorite topic and aspects of analysis from my forthcoming book on Dune, based on my PhD research. We also talked about the new Dune film and our thoughts on how it will handle the characterization of key women in its adaptation. I hope people

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globe with words meaning translation crossing it

Translations of Article “Epic World-Building: Names and Cultures in Dune”

My 2016 journal article “Epic World-Building: Names and Cultures in Dune” has been translated into several non-English languages. Many thanks to the translators for their work. My hope is that this makes some of my scholarship more accessible elsewhere in the world! French: “Construction d’un Univers épique: Noms et cultures dans Dune” Spanish: “Un Portentoso Mundo Ficticio: Nombres y Culturas en Dune” Arabic: “ملحمة بناء العالم : الأسماء والحضارات في رواية الكثبان“ Portuguese: “Construção de Mundo Épica: Nomes e Culturas em Duna“

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Lawrence of Arabia and Dune Article on

I’m so pleased to have my piece comparing Lawrence of Arabia and Seven Pillars of Wisdom with Frank Herbert’s Dune published on the science fiction and fantasy site There was a lot of material to cover and not everything could make it in, but there will be more coverage of other topics such as the camels and sandworms in a future post!

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Nuns with long white veils walking away

Similar Sisters: Catholic Nuns and the Bene Gesserit

Catholic nuns and the Bene Gesserit in Dune have much in common: from titles and clothing to discipline and influence – these are women with a mission. As sisters clothed in black, they are committed followers of their order who make a difference in their communities. Yet there is also a key difference in that the fictional Bene Gesserit do not answer to a male authority figure. This likely reflects author Frank Herbert’s interest in providing women with more agency than they had in the confines of real-world religions. According to his son Brian Herbert, Frank Herbert was responding in

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