My writing and research examine the representation of airpower and the human costs of airpower employment in twentieth and twenty-first century literature. My interests blend  my first career as a USAF Officer and aviator with my newest career teaching and writing about literature. After twenty-two years as a KC-135 navigator, conducting in-flight refueling with other aircraft and flying combat missions over Afghanistan, I returned to my first love, literature. 

I currently teach American Lit, Multi-ethnic Lit, and Intro to Lit.  I’m developing a course on Contemporary War Writing for 2019.

I recently co-facilitated two sessions of “From Troy to Baghdad: Dialogues on the Experience of War and Homecoming” for the New Hampshire Humanities.  In this group, veterans and their families read and discussed The Odyssey as a springboard to discover their own truths about combat trauma, personal sacrifice, and readjustment.


Ph.D. English, University of New Hampshire

M.A. English, The College of New Jersey

M.S. Administration, Central Michigan University

B.A. English, Concordia College (NY)

Other Publications

“Of the sky above you must beware”: Airspace and Airpower in Twentieth Century Literature.  ProQuest (Dissertation), Spring 2013.



The Clean War: A Century of Writing about Airpower. (Book Manuscript)

Upcoming Talks and Conferences

Presented 27 Oct 2018:  “The Clean War: A Century of Writing about Airpower” at University of Leicester’s Symposium North American Literature and Culture in the Twentieth Century.

Here’s the abstract:

This project interrogates the tension between the military discourse of air war in the twentieth century and the literature that challenged it. I examine the paradoxical representation of aerial warfare that has allowed airpower advocates to propose, and conduct, massive airstrikes on cities and civilians, while promising a “cleaner” method of waging war.  Suggested in the writings of military theorists Giulio Douhet, Billy Mitchell, and B.H. Liddell Hart, this notion of a clean air war—one that would save lives through its speed and precision– proved seductive throughout the century to politicians, military leaders, aircrews, and the general public.  I argue that twentieth century writers challenge these assumptions, showing aerial warfare that is messy, prolonged, and imprecise, and that saves lives of privileged populations only by sacrificing those of marginalized peoples.

The air war is perceived as clean, I suggest, when we see neither the aviator nor the targeted populations in this dynamic. Since the first use of aircraft in combat in 1911, strong forces of spatial and discursive distancing, produced by the verticality of the air war and the rhetoric of chivalry, machine war, or patriotism, combine to hide the aviators’ damaged bodies and psyches.  Targeted populations also disappear, cloaked in misrepresentation, displaced by precision discourse, or lost in the unreliability of the aerial perspective.  Writers Faulkner, Cather, Gellhorn, Heller, Vonnegut, Jarrell, Dickie, Nemerov, Pratt, Herr, and O’Brien challenge this rhetorical disappearance through poetry, fiction, reportage, and memoir, making visible both aviators and targeted populations as powerful counternarratives to the “clean war” discourse.




Women Military Aviators (WMA)


Kimberly K. Dougherty

Profile picture of Kimberly K. Dougherty


active 5 months ago