Full-Throttle Academics

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

Bernadette Murphy


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