Shelley Fisher Fishkin's 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; the role literature can play in the fight against racism; the place of humor and satire in movements for social justice; digital humanities; 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, Theresa Malkiel, Tillie Olsen, and Walt Whitman. Much of her work has focused on recovering and interpreting voices that were silenced, marginalized, or ignored in America's past.
Fishkin is a professor of English and Director of the American Studies program, as well as one of the leading scholars in American culture and literature, particularly on the work of Mark Twain.
After receiving her B.A. from Yale, she stayed on for a master’s degree in English and a Ph.D. in American Studies also at Yale. She 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, before joining the Stanford faculty in 2003. 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.
Fishkin is the author, editor or co-editor of over forty books and has published over one hundred articles, essays and reviews. Her work has been translated into Japanese, Chinese, Russian, Georgian, Spanish, and Italian, and has been published in English-language journals in Turkey, Japan, and Korea.
She has been President of the American Studies Association and the Mark Twain Circle of America and was co-founder of the Charlotte Perkins Gilman society. She has given keynote talks during the last nine years at national American Studies conferences in Beijing, Cambridge, Coimbra, Copenhagen, Dublin, Hong Kong, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Kunming, Kyoto, La Coruna, Lisbon, Nanjing, Regensburg, Seoul, St. Petersburg, Taipei, Tokyo and across the U.S. Her research has been featured twice on the front page of the New York Times, and twice on the front page of the New York Times Arts section. She also organized the Paul Laurence Dunbar Centennial Conference at Stanford in 2006.
After recovering it from the archives, Fishkin produced the world premiere of Mark Twain’s Is He Dead?, adapted by David Ives and directed by Michael Blakemore at the Lyceum Theatre on Broadway in 2007-2008. It has since had 266 productions in the U.S. and around the world. She is a founding editor and board member of the Journal of Transnational American Studies.
One of her current projects—the Chinese Railroad Workers in North America Project—is a collaborative transnational, bilingual research project with Stanford historian and co-organizer, Gordon Chang. Its mission is to recover more fully the experience of Chinese railroad workers whose labor helped establish the wealth that allowed Leland Stanford to build Stanford University. They hope to better understand how these workers figure in cultural memory of the U.S. and China.
from the PBS Culture Shock Series: Huck Finn in Context
The Journal of Transnational American Studies, 2011
Library of America, 2010
(editor). Oxford University Press, 2009
University of California Press, 2009
Palgrave Macmillan, 2009
Editor. University of California, 2003
Oxford University Press, 1997
Oxford University Press, 1993
Johns Hopkins Press, 1985
Prof. Fisher in the News
Audio and Video
The News Hour (PBS), July 7, 2010
UC Press, September 6, 2009
Online NewsHour Forum (PBS), April 11, 1997
PRI's The World, April 16, 2010
Conversations with Kathleen Dunn (Wisconsin Public Radio),
July 9, 2008
News and Notes (NPR), January 30, 2008
The Interview Point, November 26, 2007
Cultures of Journalism (ABC Radio Australia), December 4,
Online NewsHour Forum (PBS), April 11, 1997
Weekend Edition Saturday (NPR), July 13, 2002
- American Studies
- American Literature
- American Cultural History
- Mark Twain
- Race in American History and Culture
- Transnational American Studies
- Gender Issues in American Culture
- Paul Laurence Dunbar
- Public History and Public Memory
- Journalism History