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Bio

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.

Prof. Fisher in the News

December 30, 2010
Professor Shelley Fisher Fishkin writes an op-ed rebutting Charles Barron's call to ban Mark Twain'...
April 21, 2010
USA Today, April 21, 2010
March 21, 2010
San Francisco Chronicle, March 21, 2010
September 28, 2009
The OLM Blog, September 28, 2009
September 25, 2009
Westport News, September 25, 2009
September 23, 2009
Utne, September 23, 2009
September 14, 2009
Publishers' Weekly, September 14, 2009
July 16, 2009
International Literary Quarterly, July 16, 2009
May 11, 2009
Examiner, May 11, 2009
May 6, 2009
Palos Verdes Peninsula News, May 6, 2009
February 22, 2008
National Review Online, February 22, 2008
January 14, 2008
Washington Post, January 14, 2008
January 11, 2008
Chronicle of Higher Education, January 11, 2008
December 9, 2007
The New York Times, December 9, 2007
July 7, 1992
The New York Times, July 7, 1992
Contra Costa Times, November 10, 2009
Stanford Report, March 11, 2009
Book Serf, March 26, 2010
The New York Times, September 22, 2011
Washington Post, March 4, 2009
San Francisco Chronicle, March 25, 2010
The New York Times, January 6, 2011
Daily Breeze, April 27, 2009
Multidisciplinary Teaching and Research at Stanford, Fall 2007
Investor’s Business Daily, October 1, 2008
The New York Times, December 10, 2007

Audio and Video

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,
2002

Online NewsHour Forum (PBS), April 11, 1997

Weekend Edition Saturday (NPR), July 13, 2002

Expertise

  • American Studies
  • American Literature
  • American Cultural History
  • Mark Twain
  • Race in American History and Culture
  • Transnational American Studies
  • Gender Issues in American Culture
  • Feminism
  • Paul Laurence Dunbar
  • Public History and Public Memory
  • Journalism History

Contact information

sfishkin@stanford.edu

Bldg 460, Rm 420

650.723.1804

English Department Profile

Education

B.A., Yale College
M.Phil., Yale University
Ph.D., Yale University