Shelley Fisher Fishkin

photo by Steve Castillo

Welcome

Shelley Fisher Fishkin is the Joseph S. Atha Professor of Humanities, Professor of English, and Director of American Studies at Stanford University. Her broad, interdisciplinary research interests have led her to focus on topics including the ways in which American writers' apprenticeships in journalism shaped their poetry and fiction; the influence of African American voices on canonical American literature; the need to desegregate American literary studies; American theatre history; the development of feminist criticism; the relationship between public history and literary history; literature and animal welfare; and the challenge of doing transnational American Studies. Although much of her work has centered on Mark Twain, she has also published on writers including Gloria Anzaldua, John Dos Passos, Frederick Douglass, Theodore Dreiser, W.E.B. Du Bois, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Erica Jong, Maxine Hong Kingston, Tillie Olsen, and Walt Whitman.

After receiving her B.A. from Yale College (summa cum laude, phi beta kappa), she stayed on at Yale for a masters degree in English and a Ph.D. in American Studies, and was Director of the Poynter Fellowship in Journalism there. She taught American Studies and English at the University of Texas from 1985 to 2003, and was Chair of the Department of American Studies. She is a Life Member of Clare Hall, Cambridge University, England, where she was a Visiting Fellow, and has twice been a Visiting Scholar at Stanford's Institute for Research on Women and Gender. She has been awarded an American Council of Learned Societies Fellowship, was a Fulbright Distinguished Lecturer in Japan, and was the winner of a Harry H. Ransom Teaching Excellence Award at the University of Texas.

Dr. Fishkin is the author, editor or co-editor of over forty books and has published over eighty articles, essays and reviews. Her work has been translated into Arabic, Spanish, Japanese, Chinese, Russian, Georgian, and Italian, and has been published in English-language journals in Turkey, Japan, and Korea. She is the author of: From Fact to Fiction: Journalism and Imaginative Writing in America (winner of a Frank Luther Mott/​Kappa Tau Alpha Award for outstanding research in journalism history) (Johns Hopkins, 1985); Was Huck Black? Mark Twain and African-American Voices (selected as an "Outstanding Academic Book" by Choice) (Oxford, 1993); Lighting Out for the Territory: Reflections on Mark Twain and American Culture (Oxford, 1997), and Feminist Engagements: Forays Into American Literature and Culture (selected as an "Outstanding Academic Title" by Choice) (Palgrave/​Macmillan, 2009). She is the editor of the 29-volume Oxford Mark Twain (Oxford, 1996; Paperback reprint edition, 2009), the Oxford Historical Guide to Mark Twain (Oxford, 2002), "Is He Dead?" A New Comedy by Mark Twain (University of California, 2003), Mark Twain's Book of Animals (Univerisity of California Press, 2009), and The Mark Twain Anthology: Great Writers on his Life and Works (Library of America, 2010). She is also a producer of the adaptation of Twain's "Is He Dead?" which had its world debut on Broadway at the Lyceum Theatre in 2007, and was nominated for a Tony Award. She is the co-editor of Listening to Silences: New Essays in Feminist Criticism (Oxford, 1994); People of the Book: Thirty Scholars Reflect on Their Jewish Identity (Wisconsin, 1996); The Encyclopedia of Civil Rights in America (M.E. Sharpe, 1997); Mark Twain at the Turn of the Century, 1890-1910 (Arizona Quarterly, 2005); 'Sport of the Gods' and Other Essential Writing by Paul Laurence Dunbar (Random House, 2005), Anthology of American Literature, ninth edition (Prentice-Hall, 2006), Concise Anthology of American Literature, seventh edition (Prentice-Hall, 2010), and a special issue of African American Review devoted to the work of Paul Laurence Dunbar (autumn 2007). From 1993 to 2003 she co-edited Oxford University Press's "Race and American Culture" book series with Arnold Rampersad. She was co-founder of the Charlotte Perkins Gilman society, and has been president of the Mark Twain Circle of America and chair of the MLA Nonfiction Prose Division. She recently finished a term as President of the American Studies Association, and gave keynote talks during the last five years at national American Studies conferences in China, Denmark, Ireland, Japan, Korea, Russia, Taiwan, the United Kingdom, and the U.S. Her research has been featured twice on the front page of the New York Times, and in 2009 she was awarded the Mark Twain Circle's Certificate of Merit "for long and distinguished service in the elucidation of the work, thought, life and art of Mark Twain." She is a member of the Board of Governors of the Humanities Research Institute of the University of California, and is a founding Editor of the new online Journal of Transnational American Studies.

Selected Works

Essays
Lighting Out for the Territory: Reflections on Mark Twain and American Culture
Ms. Fishkin's "reflections on Mark Twain and American culture" are an illuminating companion to any consideration of Twain's work. -- The New York Times Book Review, David Walton
Feminist Engagements: Forays into American Literature and Culture
These historically-grounded, feminist interventions into American literary history range from explorations of feminist humor and chutzpah, to meditations on the personal and the political, to examinations of feminists' challenges to cultural paradigms.
book series
The Oxford Mark Twain
Colorful, irreverent, romantic, skeptical, a master of comic asides, a bittersweet humorist, and an unflinching critic of human pretensions, Mark Twain speaks to us across time with verve and wisdom. On the occasion of the centennial of his death, Oxford is issuing a paperback set of our landmark 29 volume collection, The Oxford Mark Twain. In addition to gathering together most of the writings ever published by Twain in the U.S., each volume is introduced by one of our most eminent writers. Their essays combine critical insights and personal appreciations of Twain as a fellow writer. An interpretive essay by a leading scholar that sets the book in its context concludes each volume. At the heart of each is a facsimile edition of Twain's original which captures its contemporary flavor. Many include original illustrations which suggest the life and times of the books in a way that other editions cannot. This remarkable offering will be treasured by all lovers of literature.
Anthology
Mark Twain’s Book of Animals
"Mark Twain's Book of Animals is a work that can easily be enjoyed by the casual reader of Twain and certainly qualifies as an essential volume for the devoted Twain scholar."
—Mark Twain Forum
The Mark Twain Anthology: Great Writers on His Life and Works
The Mark Twain Anthology brings together the words of over 60 writers, from his earliest reviewers to today, probing the many facets of Mark Twain: his incomparable humor, his revolutionary use of vernacular language, his exploration of the realities of American life, his irreverence and skepticism, his profound grappling with issues of race, his fearless opposition to the injustices and outrages of an imperialistic age.

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