Susan S. Lanser is professor of English and comparative literature and chair of the women’s studies program at Brandeis University. Her scholarly interests encompass eighteenth-century studies, the French Revolution, feminist thought, narrative theory, and the history of gender and sexuality. Her most recent book is an edition of Helen Maria Williams’s Letters Written in France (Broadview Press, 2001). Forthcoming essays include “The Novel Body Politic,” “The ‘I’ of the Beholder,” and “The Political Economy of Same-Sex Desire.”
At the Radcliffe Institute, Lanser will explore the discourses about women’s same-sex relations that burgeoned in tandem with the European Enlightenment. She sees the new public attention to private intimacies as a flashpoint for vexing questions not only about women’s place but also about social mobility, civil rights, and human difference. By mapping changing constructions of female homoeroticism onto a broad cultural terrain, Lanser hopes to understand the significance of sapphism not only for the study of sexuality but also for women’s history and for the history of modernity.
Lanser holds a PhD from the University of Wisconsin and taught at Georgetown University and the University of Maryland before joining the Brandeis faculty in 2001. She was named a Distinguished Scholar-Teacher at the University of Maryland, and she served for ten years as an editor of the journal Feminist Studies. She has received fellowships from the Danforth Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Folger Institute. Her essay “Befriending the Body: Female Intimacies as Class Acts” won the MLA Crompton-Noll Award in 1999.