Shelley Fisher Fishkin
Joseph S. Atha Professor in Humanities
Ph.D., Yale University, American Studies (1977)
M. Phil, Yale University, American Studies (1974)
M.A., Yale University, English (1974)
B.A., Yale College, English (1971)
Shelley Fisher Fishkin is the Joseph S. Atha Professor of Humanities and Professor of English at Stanford. She is Director of Stanford's American Studies Program and is also Co-Director of the Chinese Railroad Workers in North America Project at Stanford. She is the author, editor, or co-editor of forty-six books, and has published over one hundred fifty articles, essays and reviews, many of which have focused on issues of race and racism in America, and on recovering and interpreting voices that were silenced, marginalized, or ignored in America's past. Her books have won two “Outstanding Academic Title” awards from Choice, an award from the the National Journalism Scholarship Society, and “Outstanding Reference Work” awards from Library Journal and the New York Public Library. She holds a Ph.D. in American Studies from Yale. Before coming to Stanford in 2003, she was chair of the American Studies Department at the University of Texas at Austin. Since 2003, the challenge of doing transnational research in American Studies has been a central concern. 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.
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. 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." Her most recent book is Writing America: Literary Landmarks from Walden Pond to Wounded Knee (named runner-up for the best book award in the general nonfiction category, London Book Festival, 2015) (Rutgers University Press, 2015; paperback, 2017), a book that Junot Díaz called "a triumph of scholarship and passion, a profound exploration of the many worlds which comprise our national canon....a book that redraws the literary map of the United States." She was awarded a John S. Tuckey Award for Lifetime Achievements and Contributions to Mark Twain Studies in 2017.
She has served as 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 at conferences in Beijing, Cambridge, Coimbra, Copenhagen, Dublin, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Kunming, Kyoto, La Coruña, Lisbon, Mainz, Nanjing, Regensburg, Seoul, St. Petersburg, Taipei, Tokyo, and across the U.S. Her current project is 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.
In June 2019, the American Studies Association created a new prize, the "Shelley Fisher Fishkin Prize for International Scholarship in Transnational American Studies." The prize honors publications by scholars outside the United States that present original research in transnational American Studies. In its announcement of the new award, the ASA said, "Shelley Fisher Fishkin's leadership in creating a crossoads for international scholarly collaboration and exchange has transformed the field of American Studies in both theory and practice. This award honors Professor Fishkin's outstanding dedication to the field by promoting exceptional scholarship that seeks multiple perspectives that enable comprehensive and complex approaches to American Studies, and which produce culturally, socially, and politically significant insights and interpretations relevant to Americanists around the world." Her current projects include a book entitled Citizen Twain: Hal Holbrook and Mark Twain on Racism, Jingoism and Corruption.