Jen Lois

she/hers, Professor of Sociology


Jen Lois

PhD, University of Colorado-Boulder


Jen Lois grew up in the suburbs of New York City and received a B.A. in Latin American Studies from Dartmouth College. After a short stint teaching skiing, she returned to school and received her PhD in Sociology from the University of Colorado-Boulder. Professor Lois is a field researcher, observing first-hand and participating in interesting areas of social life. In her first project, she spent six years studying a volunteer, mountain-environment search and rescue group. Through this research, she became interested in gender, heroism, and the sociology of emotions. This project produced several articles and culminated a book, Heroic Efforts, which was published in 2003 by New York University Press, and in 2006 was honored with the Outstanding Recent Contribution Award from the American Sociological Association’s Sociology of Emotions Section. Professor Lois’s second book, Home Is Where the School Is, is based on 10 years of field research with homeschooling mothers. The project focuses on the temporal and emotional tensions inherent in the cultural ideal of mothering and was published in 2012 by New York University Press. WWU’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences and the City of Bellingham co-sponsored a one-hour lecture on some of the book’s findings, which can be found here: Dean’s Lecture Series: Home Is Where the School Is. Romance novel writers are the subject of Professor Lois’s current research, a joint project with Professor Joanna Gregson (Pacific Lutheran University). Together they attend romance-writing workshops and conferences and are interviewing romance novelists about the stigma of the genre and how the preponderance of women in the romance-writing industry affects the subculture as a whole. In 2011, the project received the Academic Research Grant from the Romance Writers of America. You can hear a 35-minute interview that Professors Lois and Gregson did with Sarah Wendell, a well-known romance review blogger, about some of their research findings here: Podcast: The Gendered Culture of Romance Writers. Professor Lois teaches courses in gender, sexuality, sociology of emotions, and field research methods. In her free time, she enjoys reading romance novels and getting outside with her husband, kids, and their “search doodle.”

Research Interests

  • Sociology of Emotions, Gender, Identity/Self, Qualitative Methods

Current Courses

Gender and Society (Soc 268)

Self, Emotions, and Society (Soc 330)

Women, Sexuality, and Society (Soc 339/WGSS 339)

Deviant Behavior (Soc 251)

Field Research Methods (Soc 430)

Selected Publications

Research on the Romance Writing Subculture:

Lois, Jennifer, and Joanna Gregson. 2019. “Aspirational Emotion Work: Calling, Emotional Capital, and Becoming a ‘Real’ Writer.” Journal of Contemporary Ethnography 48:51-79. 

Lois, Jennifer, and Joanna Gregson. 2015. “Sneers and Leers: Romance Writers and Gendered Sexual Stigma.” Gender & Society 29:459-83.

Gregson, Joanna, and Jennifer Lois. 2020. “Social Science Reads Romance.” Invited chapter contribution to The Routledge Research Companion to Popular Romance Fiction, edited by Jayashree Kamble, Eric Murphy Selinger, and Hsu-Ming Teo. Burlington, VT: Routledge.


Research on Homeschooling Mothers:

Lois, Jennifer. 2017. “Homeschooling Motherhood.” Pp. 186-206 in The Wiley Handbook of Home Education, edited by Milton Gaither. West Sussex, UK: Wiley.

Lois, Jennifer.  2012. Home Is Where The School Is: The Logic of Homeschooling and the Emotional Labor of Mothering.  New York: New York University Press.

Lois, Jennifer. 2010. “The Temporal Emotion Work of Motherhood: Homeschoolers’ Strategies for Managing Time Shortage.” Gender & Society 24:421-46.

Lois, Jennifer. 2009. “Emotionally Layered Accounts: Homeschoolers’ Justifications for Maternal Deviance.” Deviant Behavior 30:201-234.

Lois, Jennifer. 2006. “Role Strain, Emotion Management, and Burnout: Homeschooling Mothers' Adjustment to the Teacher Role.”  Symbolic Interaction 29:507-30.


Research on Search and Rescue:

Lois, Jennifer. 2005. “Gender and Emotion Management in the Stages of Edgework.” Pp.117-152 in Edgework: The Sociology of Risk-Taking, edited by Stephen Lyng. New York: Routledge.

Lois, Jennifer. 2003. Heroic Efforts: The Emotional Culture of Search and Rescue Volunteers. New York: New York University Press.

Lois, Jennifer. 2001. “Peaks and Valleys: The Gendered Emotional Culture of Edgework.” Gender & Society 15: 381-406.

Lois, Jennifer. 2001. “Managing Emotions, Intimacy, and Relationships in a Volunteer Search and Rescue Group.” Journal of Contemporary Ethnography 30:131-79.

Lois, Jennifer. 1999. “Socialization to Heroism: Individualism and Collectivism in a Voluntary Search and Rescue Group.” Social Psychology Quarterly 62:117-35.


Lois CV May 2021.pdf (295.47 KB)