Susan Stanford Friedman

Position title: Hilldale Professor, Virginia Woolf Professor of English and Women’s Studies


7103 Helen C. White Hall

Modernism/modernity, Feminist theory and women's writing, Cultural theory and world literatures in English, Diaspora and migration, religious studies, narrative theory, postcolonial studies, psychoanalysis

Degrees and Institutions

  • PhD University of Wisconsin, 1973
  • BA, Greek and English, Swarthmore College, 1965

Selected Publications

    • Contemporary Revolutions: Turning Back to the Future in 21st-Century Literature and Art. Bloomsbury, 2018.
    • Planetary Modernisms: Provocations on Modernity Across Time (Columbia UP, 2015)
    • Mappings: Feminism and the Cultural Geographies of Encounter (Princeton UP, 1998; ebook, 2001), recipient of the Perkins Prize for Best Book in Narrative Studies, translated into Chinese (2014)
    • Penelope’s Web: Gender, Modernity, H.D.’s Fiction (Cambridge UP, 1990)
    • Psyche Reborn: The Emergence of H.D. (Indiana UP, 1981, 1987), recipient of a Choice Outstanding Academic Books Award
    • co-author of A Woman’s Guide to Therapy (Prentice Hall, 1979)


  • Co-editor of Comparison: Theories, Approaches, Uses (Johns Hopkins UP, 2013)
  • editor of Analyzing Freud: Letters of H.D., Bryher, and Their Circle (New Directions, 2001)
  • editor of Joyce: The Return of the Repressed (Cornell UP, 1992)
  • co-editor of Signets: Reading H.D. (University of Wisconsin Press, 1991)

Current Curriculum Vitae for Prof. Friedman

She has published over eighty articles and book chapters on modernism, migration/diaspora, world literatures in English, narrative theory, feminist theory and pedagogy, narrative theory, women’s poetry, modernism, autobiography, psychoanalysis, globalization and geopolitics, and identity; on writers such as H.D., Freud, Virginia Woolf, Julia Kristeva, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Adrienne Rich, James Joyce, E. M. Forster, Louise Erdrich, Gish Jen, Anna Deavere Smith, Gloria Anzaldúa, Rabindranath Tagore, Arundhati Roy, Fatima Mernissi, Azar Nafisi, Tayeb Salih, Randa Jarran and Leila Aboulela; and films and films such as The Crying GameMississippi MasalaDaughters of the Dust, and Borderline. She has guest-edited special issues of Contemporary Literature and Journal of Narrative Technique and co-founded and edited Contemporary Women’s Writing (2007-12), a prize-winning Oxford UP journal

Journals in which her work has appeared include PMLAModernism/ModernityNarrativeNew Literary History, Journal of World Literature, Modern Fiction StudiesPaideuma,  SignsFeminist StudiesTulsa Studies in Women’s LiteratureGenders,  China ScholarshipNew Comparison, Communal/PluralLiterature and PsychologyThe Annual of PsychoanalysisReligion and LiteratureAgendaSagetriebMontemoraPoesisLITJournal of Narrative TechniqueCollege EnglishWomen’s StudiesIowa ReviewSouth Carolina ReviewLingua FrancaMS. MagazineModern PhilologyWomen’s Review of BooksMettelweg 36Revista Critica de Ciencias Sociais, and med.Azioni.

She has lectured in Argentina, Britain, Canada, China, Dubai, Hong Kong, Italy, Korea, India, Lebanon, the Netherlands, Portugal, and Taiwan. Her work is translated into Chinese, German, Hungerian, Icelandic, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Serbian, and Spanish.

Honors include the Wayne C. Booth Award for Lifetime Achievement in Narrative Studies (2009), the Perkins Prize for Best Book in Narrative Studies (1999), a Choice Academic Book Award (1981), the Florence Howe Award for Best Essay in Feminist Criticism (1978), WARF, and Bascom, and Hilldale Professorships, and fellowships from ACLS, NEH, and the American Psychoanlytic Association. She has also been honored with 4 teaching awards at UW-Madison.

Research Interests

20th and 21st Centuries American, British, and Anglophone world literatures; modernism/modernity; women’s writing (fiction, poetry, essay); feminist theory; comparative postcolonial, diaspora, migration, transnational, and border theory and literature; narrative theory; psychoanalysis; multiculturalism and race studies; contemporary cultural theory, especially anthropology and geography; film.

Current Projects

She is currently working on Sisters of Scheherazade: Religion, Diaspora, Muslim Women’s Writing.


She has taught some twenty-six courses for English and Women’s Studies and directed 42 dissertations, served on over 70 dissertation and MFA committees, and directed four honors theses.

Recent Books

  • Returning to revolution’s original meaning of ‘cycle’, Contemporary Revolutions explores how 21st-century writers, artists, and performers re-engage the arts of the past to reimagine a present and future encompassing revolutionary commitments to justice and freedom. Dealing with histories of colonialism, slavery, genocide, civil war, and gender and class inequities, essays examine literature and arts of Africa, Europe, the Middle East, the Pacific Islands, and the United States.

    The broad range of contemporary writers and artists considered include fabric artist Ellen Bell; poets Selena Tusitala Marsh and Antje Krog; Syrian artists of the civil war and Sana Yazigi’s creative memory web site about the war; street artist Bahia Shehab; theatre installation artist William Kentridge; and the recycles of Virginia Woolf by multi-media artist Kabe Wilson, novelist W. G. Sebald, and the contemporary trans movement.

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  • Friedman (Editor), S. S. Planetary Modernisms: Provocations on Modernity Across Time. Columbia University Press, 2015.

    Drawing on a vast archive of world history, anthropology, geography, cultural theory, postcolonial studies, gender studies, literature, and art, Susan Stanford Friedman recasts modernity as a networked, circulating, and recurrent phenomenon producing multiple aesthetic innovations across millennia. Considering cosmopolitan as well as nomadic and oceanic worlds, she radically revises the scope of modernist critique and opens the practice to more integrated study.

    Friedman moves from large-scale instances of pre-1500 modernities, such as Tang Dynasty China and the Mongol Empire, to small-scale instances of modernisms, including the poetry of Du Fu and Kabir and Abbasid ceramic art. She maps the interconnected modernisms of the long twentieth century, pairing Joseph Conrad with Tayeb Salih, E. M. Forster with Arundhati Roy, Virginia Woolf with the Tagores, and Aimé Césaire with Theresa Hak Kyung Cha. She reads postcolonial works from Sudan and India and engages with the idea of Négritude. Rejecting the modernist concepts of marginality, othering, and major/minor, Friedman instead favors rupture, mobility, speed, networks, and divergence, elevating the agencies and creative capacities of all cultures not only in the past and present but also in the century to come.

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  • Friedman (Co-editor), S. S. Comparison: Theories, Approaches, Uses. Johns Hopkins UP, 2013.

    Writing and teaching across cultures and disciplines makes the act of comparison inevitable. Comparative theory and methods of comparative literature and cultural anthropology have permeated the humanities as they engage more centrally with the cultural flows and circulation of past and present globalization. How do scholars make ethically and politically responsible comparisons without assuming that their own values and norms are the standard by which other cultures should be measured?

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  • Analyzing Freud: Letters of H.D., Bryher, and Their Circle cover
    Friedman (Editor), S. S. Analyzing Freud: Letters of H.D., Bryher, and Their Circle. New Directions, 2001.

    Breezy, informal, irreverent, vibrant in detail, H.D.’s letters to her companion, Bryher, revolve around her 1933-1934 therapy sessions with Sigmund Freud, from which she emerged reborn. “A correspondence that tells us more about Freud as a clinician than any other source” (PsyArt), this volume includes H.D.’s and Bryher’s letters, as well as letters by Freud to H.D. and Bryher, most of them published here for the first time. In addition, the book includes H.D.’s and Bryher’s letters to and from Havelock Ellis, Kenneth MacPherson, Conrad Aiken, Ezra Pound, and Anna Freud, among others. Taken together, the 307 letters in Analyzing Freud, introduced and fully annotated by Susan Stanford Friedman, comprise a fresh, compelling portrait of H.D., and her analyst, Freud.

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  • Mappings: Feminism and the Cultural Geographies of Encounter cover
    Friedman, S. S. Mappings: Feminism and the Cultural Geographies of Encounter. Princeton University Press, 1998.

    In this powerful work, Susan Friedman moves feminist theory out of paralyzing debates about us and them, white and other, first and third world, and victimizers and victims. Throughout, Friedman adapts current cultural theory from global and transnational studies, anthropology, and geography to challenge modes of thought that exaggerate the boundaries of gender, race, ethnicity, sexuality, class, and national origin. The author promotes a transnational and heterogeneous feminism, which, she maintains, can replace the proliferation of feminisms based on difference. She argues for a feminist geopolitical literacy that goes beyond fundamentalist identity politics and absolutist poststructuralist theory, and she continually focuses the reader’s attention on those locations where differences are negotiated and transformed.

    Pervading the book is a concern with narrative: the way stories and cultural narratives serve as a primary mode of thinking about the politically explosive question of identity. Drawing freely on modernist novels, contemporary film, popular fiction, poetry, and mass media, the work features narratives of such writers and filmmakers as Gish Jen, Julie Dash, June Jordon, James Joyce, Gloria Anzalda, Neil Jordon, Virginia Woolf, Mira Nair, Zora Neale Hurston, E. M. Forster, and Irena Klepfisz.

    Defending the pioneering role of academic feminists in the knowledge revolution, this work draws on a wide variety of twentieth-century cultural expressions to address theoretical issues in postmodern feminism.

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  • Joyce: The Return of the Repressed cover
    Friedman (Editor), S. S. Joyce: The Return of the Repressed. Cornell University Press, 1992.

    Did James Joyce, that icon of modernity, spearhead the dismantling of the Cartesian subject? Or was he a supreme example of a modern man forever divided and never fully known to himself? This volume reads the dialogue of contradictory cultural voices in Joyce’s works–revolutionary and reactionary, critical and subject to critique, marginal and central. It includes ten essays–all but two of them published here for the first time–that identify repressed elements in Joyce’s writings and examine how psychic and cultural repressions persistently surface in his texts.

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  • Penelope's Web: Gender, Modernity, H.D.'s Fiction cover
    Friedman, S. S. Penelope’s Web: Gender, Modernity, H.D.’s Fiction. Cambridge University Press, 1991.

    Penelope’s Web should appeal to a wide spectrum of readers interested in twentieth-century modernism, women’s writing, feminist criticism, post-structuralist theory, psychoanalysis, autobiography, and women’s studies. It is the first book to examine fully the brilliantly innovative prose writings of H.D., the pen-name for Hilda Doolittle (1886-1961), who has been known primarily as a poet. Her prose, more personal, experimental, and postmodern than her poetry, raises central questions about the relation of women writers to language, desire, and history. She suppressed in her lifetime many of these texts because of their daring exploration of her bisexuality and their radical critique of the social order. H.D.’s prose writings contribute importantly to the many histories and theories of modernism that are redrawing boundaries to include the achievement of women writers.

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  • Signets: Reading H.D. cover
    Friedman (Editor), S. S., and R. B. D. (Editor). Signets: Reading H.D. University of Wisconsin Press, 1991.

    Signets is an essential resource for those interested in H. D., modernism, and feminist criticism and writing that brings together the best essays of H.D. (Hilda Doolittle). Susan Stanford Friedman and Rachel Blau DuPlessis have gathered the most influential and generative studies of H. D.’s work and complemented them with photobiographical, chronological, and bibliographical portraits unique to this volume.

    The essays in Signets span H. D.’s career from the origins of Imagism to late modernism, from the early poems of Sea Garden to the novel HER and the epic poems Trilogy and Helen in Egypt. In addition to the editors, the contributors are Diana Collecott, Robert Duncan, Albert Gelpi, Eileen Gregory, Susan Gubar, Barbara Guest, Elizabeth A. Hirsch, Deborah Kelly Kloepfer, Cassandar Laity, Adalaide Morris, Alicia Ostriker, Cyrena N. Pondrom, Perdita Schaffner, and Louis H. Silverstein.

    Susan Stanford Friedman is Professor of English and Women’s Studies at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Her works include Psyche Reborn: The Emergence of H. D. and Penelope’s Web: Gender, Modernity, H. D.’s Fiction.Rachel Blau DuPlessis is Professor of English at Temple University. She is author of Writing Beyond the Ending: Narrative Strategies of the Twentieth-Century Women Writers and H. D.: The Career of that Struggle.

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  • Psyche Reborn: The Emergence of H.D. cover
    Friedman, S. S. Psyche Reborn: The Emergence of H.D. Indiana University Press, 1981.
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  • A Woman's Guide to Therapy cover
    Friedman, S. S. A Woman’s Guide to Therapy. Prentice Hall, 1979.
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