Susan Wolfson

Office Phone
16 McCosh Hall
Office Hours

Mondays and Wednesdays from 1:30pm - 3:00pm, and by appointment


Susan Wolfson received her Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley in 1978 and in the same year joined the faculty of Rutgers University in New Brunswick before coming to Princeton in 1991. Her specialization is the Romantics and their contemporaries - writers in Britain from 1780 to about 1850 - though she cares about Milton and Shakespeare too and has written on both.

Susan Wolfson was Vice President and President of the Association of Literary Scholars, Critics and Writers (2008-2010) and during this tenure brought its international conference to Princeton. She serves on several editorial boards of professional journals and on the Board of Directors (since 2003) of the Keats-Shelley Association of America. She has been honored with several distinguished lectureships (most recently the Clark Lectures at Trinity College Cambridge) and has been recognized with a number of awards, for teaching, for research, and for her publications. In 2016 she was honored with the Phi Beta Kappa award for undergraduate teaching, elected by students from the Princeton chapter. She has been the recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the American Council of Learned Societies. And she has received the Distinguished Scholar Award from the Keats-Shelley Association, which also, earlier in her career, honored one of her essays (on Byron) as the best of the year. (Awards for her books are noted below on her list of publications.)

Recent publications have been on two fronts: editing and critical inquiry, mostly in the field of British Romanticism (a fuller description of these interests can be found on her Curriculum Vitae). She teaches an array of courses in Romanticism and Romantic-era writers, and enjoyed her work for the sophomore survey of British literature from Romanticism to Modernism. She also helped innovate and enjoyed teaching the junior seminar for majors on critical reading, research, and writing. Other forays include seminars on Shakespeare and gender and on Milton's dazzling epic Paradise Lost, as well as an interdisciplinary seminar on Mary Shelley's Frankenstein in context. She enjoys the energy and communication of the lecture hall as much as the intimacy and spontaneity of seminars and precepts, as well as the close working relationship that develops in advising independent projects--from junior-year essays, to senior-year theses, to doctoral dissertations. In all her work, as teacher, critic, editor, and professional presence, she cares about literary aesthetics and remains a "close reader" of its complex forms and languages. She has also been writing sonnets and publishing them in Literary Imagination (fall issue 2010). Below is a recent poem, not yet published except here:

Bat in my window
A month ago I saw the baby bat, a blot
In my study-window, between screen and storm.
In heavy sunlight his small ears glowed
As head down, still he slept, a breathing form.
Except when with a slow wing-stretch he turned
head up, to answer nature’s call and not
soil its wee self.  Soft sleep was suspended
While the critter, delicate, upended--
Then down again to drowse of languid air.
Once I went to check the midnight window:
Even in full moonlight bat ears do not glow.
Two weeks on, my familiar was not there.
Later I read the mosquito-killing August drought
Had starved the adults, forced the young ones out.

Selected Publications

Literary Criticism

Romantic Shades and Shadows, Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, 2018.

Reading John Keats. Cambridge University Press, 2015. Choice Award: Outstanding Academic Title, 2016.

The Annotated Frankenstein. Coeditor Ronald L. Levao. Harvard University Press, 2012.

Romantic Interactions:  Social Being & the Turns of Literary Action.  Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, 2010.

Soundings of Things Done”:  The Poetry and Poetics of Sound in the Romantic Ear and Era, ed. for Praxis Series at Romantic Circles.  Editor and contributor.

Borderlines: The Shiftings of Gender in British Romanticism, Standford University Press, 2006; paperback 2008.

Reading for Form. Co-edited with Marshall Brown (University of Washington).  Univ. of Washington Press, 2007.

The Cambridge Companion to John Keats. Cambridge University Press, 2001. Editor and contributor.

Formal Charges: The Shaping of Poetry in British Romanticism.  Stanford Univ. Press, 1997; paperback, 1999.   Jean-Pierre Barricelli Prize, awarded by the American Conference on Romanticism for the outstanding book of 1997.

Women in the Curriculum: British Literature: Discipline Analysis. Baltimore: National Center for Curriculum Transformation Resources on Women, 1997.

The Questioning Presence: Wordsworth, Keats, and the Interrogative Mode in Romantic Poetry. Cornell Univ. Press, 1986.

Editing and Scholary Editions

Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey: An Annotated Edition.  Harvard Univ. Press, 2014.

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein: An Annotated Edition. Coedited with Ronald L. Levao (Rutgers University).  Harvard Univ. Press, 2012.

Longman Anthology of British Literature:  The Romantics & Their Contemporaries.  Co-editor Peter J. Manning.1998; 5th edition 2012.

Three Tales of Doubles:  Mary Shelley’s Transformation; Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde; Joseph Conrad’s The Secret Sharer A Longman Cultural Edition.  Coedited with Barry V. Qualls (Rutgers Univ.), 2009.

John Keats, A Longman Cultural Edition, 2007.

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. A Longman Cultural Edition. 2003; new edition, 2007.

Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice., A Longman Cultural Edition Coedited with Claudia L. Johnson. 2003.

The Siege of Valencia, by Felicia HemansThe 1823 Publication and the Manuscript.  A parallel text. Coedited Elizabeth Fay (University of Massachusetts).  Broadview Press, 2002. 315 pp. Nominated for MLA prize for distinguished scholarly edition.

Felicia Hemans: Selected Poems, Letters, & Reception Materials.  Princeton Univ. Press, 2000; paperback, 2009.   Nominated for MLA prize for distinguished scholarly edition.

Lord Byron: Selected Poems, Coedited with Peter J Manning (State University of New York). 1996, revised, 2004.

Selected Poetry of Thomas Hood, Winthrop Mackworth Praed, Thomas Lovell Beddoes.  Penguin, 2000.  Univ. of Pittsburgh Press, 2001. 420 pp. Noted in TLS, books of the year.