English Department Retirements

On April 11th, friends and family gathered to celebrate this year’s retirees from the English department. The crowd raised glasses to celebrate Susan Stanford Friedman, Theresa Kelley, Lynn Keller, Judith Mitchell, and Karen Redfield. One highlight of the evening was a musical performance for the retirees. You can watch the song here.

Additionally, a few retirees shared their favorite moments from their time here at UW.

Prof. Susan Stanford Friedman (Hilldale Professor, Virginia Woolf Professor of English and Women’s Studies)

“In 1975, I began teaching English 250: Women and Literature, excited by the chance to teach so many forgotten women writers, like Kate Chopin, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Virginia Woolf, Nella Larsen, Jean Rhys, Zora Neale Hurston, and Sylvia Plath. My students rebelled—so many of the stories and writers feature women’s madness, suicide, and despair. We can’t survive the semester! they complained. I learned from them to seek narratives of persistence, resilience, and agency, even in the face of patriarchal trials and tribulations. What the students demanded profoundly affected my future research and teaching. What I learned from my students made me a better teacher and scholar!”

Prof. Lynn Keller (Martha Meier Renk-Bascom Professor of Poetry)

Lynn Keller

“When I arrived at the UW, junior faculty were rarely allowed to teach graduate students, and I taught here for six years before being given a graduate class. Perhaps partly in consequence of having to wait for this reward, teaching graduate students has always felt like a privilege.  My favorite memory, then, does not involve a single event but a composite one: the experience I’ve enjoyed again and again of sitting at a table with a dozen or so English Department graduate students, puzzling over poems.  The difficult poetry I love yields its richest meanings when reading is a communal act and insights offered by multiple voices build a collective understanding. Of course, it’s the wonderful UW students who have made that activity such a pleasure. How astonishing that I have been so fortunate as to be paid to sit in good company and talk about poetry!”

Dr. Karen Redfield (Undergraduate Academic Advisor)

Karen Redfield“I have too many happy memories with English majors to fit into one short story. They are bright, engaging students who make me laugh sometimes, feel very proud often, and cry sometimes, too. One memory from my first year at UW was a lovely bridge from my years of teaching at Madison Area Technical College to my advising years at UW-Madison. One of my favorite MATC students had transferred to UW as an English major. He didn’t think I’d remember him, but of course I did. He finished his English major and went into the first MS in Secondary Education cohort. I had often suggested that this student go into teaching, and when I heard him talk passionately about some of the high school students he was working with, my heart sang. We have many stellar English majors who do amazing things. I am delighted to meet their families at graduation; the families are often surprised that I really do know their sons and daughters. However, hearing a former student talk about teaching was a special memory that I will never forget.”

If you have any memories you’d like to share, we’d love to hear them. As always, you can drop us a line at webadmin@wisc.edu.