Shelley Fisher Fishkin

Shelley Fisher Fishkin

Faculty Webpage

(650) 723-1804

Department of English
Bldg. 460, Room 420
Stanford, CA 94305-2087

Joseph S. Atha Professor in Humanities Professor

Department of English


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; the development of feminist criticism; the relationship between public history and literary history; 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, Tillie Olsen, and Walt Whitman. Her most recent book includes discussions of Jewish writers including  Sholem Asch, Abraham Cahan, Allen Ginsberg, Michael Gold,  Abraham Goldfaden, Jacob Gordin, Irena Klepfisz, Emma Lazarus, Morris Rosenfeld, Henry Roth, and Anzia Yezierska. 

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.

After receiving her B.A. from Yale College from Yale College, she stayed on at Yale for a master’s 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, 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 forty-five books and has published over one hundred  articles, essays and reviews. These include People of the Book: Thirty Scholars Reflect on their Jewish Identity, co-edited with Jeffrey Rubin-Dorsky (University of Wisconsin Press, 1996) and “Mark Twain and the Jews” (The Arizona Quarterly, Spring 2005). Her most recent book is Writing America: Literary Landmarks from Walden Pond to Wounded Knee, which includes a lengthy discussion of the literature of the Lower East Side (Rutgers University Press, 2015). 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 China, Denmark, Germany, India, 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 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. She was a producer of 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.  She is a founding Editor of the online Journal of Transnational American Studies. Her current projects include a collaborative transnational, bilingual research project dealing with the Chinese Railroad Workers whose labor helped establish the wealth that allowed Leland Stanford to build Stanford University; the project's goal is to try to recover their experience more fully than ever before, and to understand how these workers have figured  in cultural memory in the U.S. and China.

  • Mark Twain and American Culture
  • Transnational American Studies
  • Reimagining America: Cultural Memory and Identity Since the Civil War
  • Journalism and Imaginative Writing in America
  • Century’s End: Race, Gender and Ethnicity at the Turn of the Century



Writing America: Literary Landmarks from Walden Pond to Wounded Knee, Rutgers UP, 2015.

“Deep Maps”: A Brief for Digital Palimpest Mapping Projects, The Journal of Transnational American Studies, 2011

The Mark Twain Anthology: Great Writers on His Life and Work. Library of America, 2010.

Mark Twain's Book of Animals. University of California Press, 2009.

Feminist Engagements: Forays into American Literature and Culture. Palgrave Macmillan, 2009.

“Asian Crossroads/Transnational American Studies”, Japanese Journal of American Studies, No. 17 (2006)

“Erica Jong” in  Jewish Writers of the Twentieth Century, ed. Sorrel Kerbel. London: Fitzroy Dearborn, 2001.

Is He Dead? A New Comedy by Mark Twain.  Editor. University of California, 2003.

Lighting Out for the Territory: Reflections on Mark Twain and American Culture.  Oxford University Press, 1997.

People of the Book: Thirty Scholars Reflect on their Jewish Identity, co-edited with Jeffrey Rubin-Dorsky (University of Wisconsin Press, 1996)

The Oxford Mark Twain , editor, 29 volumes) (1996)

“Reframing the Multicultural Debates and Remapping American Studies”, Journal of American Studies of Turkey, 1 (1995), 3-18

Was Huck Black? Mark Twain and African-American Voices.  Oxford University Press, 1993.

From Fact to Fiction: Journalism and Imaginative Writing in America.  Johns Hopkins Press, 1985.

Mark Twain’s Inconvenient Truths

Writing America: Literary Landmarks from Walden Pond to Wounded Knee (Rutgers UP, 2015)


Her recent book, Writing America: Literary Landmarks from Walden Pond to Wounded Knee was named Runner-up in General Non-Fiction for the 2015 London Book Festival.