Full-Throttle Academics

What questions do motorcycle scholars explore? In Brando's words, 'Whaddya got?'

Bernadette Murphy

johnlivzey.com

Bernadette Murphy, who teaches creative writing at Antioch University in Los Angeles, straddles her Harley-Davidson. Ms. Murphy is writing a book on women at midlife who gain confidence by taking risks.

The first thing people asked Bernadette Murphy last summer after she started riding a Harley-Davidson at age 48 was, "When are you going to get tattoos?"

The question offended her.

"It sounded like they were reducing motorcycling to this stereotype," she says, "that I was just copying some cultural trope."

So what led the creative-writing professor and mother of three to slip away this month from the biennial meeting of the International Journal of Motorcycle