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I’m the type of life-long learner who likes to learn a new discourse
for every project. I take pride in my ability to teach students the
pleasures and skills of interdisciplinarity. My students learn to apply
the discourses of political science and history to the study of fiction
and the tools of gender studies, psychoanalysis, and the history of
feminism’s emergence to the study of women writers. In my film and
literature classes, I teach students to read film through the lens of
aesthetic, visual-culture, and historical analysis and to understand
the difference that media makes to the study of narrative structure and
situation. By teaching my students in an interdisciplinary way, I hope
to inspire them to become life-long learners too.
~Dianne F. Sadoff
In the fall of 2006 we welcomed Dianne Sadoff to our department. Before coming to Rutgers, Professor Sadoff taught at Antioch College, Colby College, the University of Southern Maine, and Miami University, where she also served as chair of the Department of English and associate dean in the College of Arts and Sciences. In the summer, she has regularly been appointed to the faculty of the Bread Loaf School of English. Sadoff has received grants to support her scholarly work from the Ford Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.
Her scholarship represents expertise in several fieldsVictorian studies, feminist and psychoanalytic theory and criticism, and film (particularly films that remake nineteenth century texts).
Sadoff is the author of two significant books, both of which address the relations between psychoanalysis, nineteenth century literature, and feminism. Her first book, Monsters of Affection: Dickens, Eliot, and Brontë on Fatherhood, examines the struggle between fathers and children embedded in the work of these three Victorian novelists. Writing about Dickens, she concentrates on the sons rivalry with the father, while in Eliot she explores the daughters desire for the father, and in Brontë the daughters punishment by the father.
Sciences of the Flesh: Representing Body and Subject in Psychoanalysis, her second book, demonstrates the importance of both literary and historical approaches to the understanding of psychoanalysis. In the words of Carolyn Dever, of Vanderbilt University, Sadoffs Freud is a narrative Freud. Her book engages the rhetorical, metaphorical, and narrative strategies that underwrote the development of Freuds theory, as well as the particular social, clinical, and political contexts within which psychoanalytic theory developed.
In both these books, Sadoff is (in her own words) concerned with the relation between psyche and soma. In her analysis, she interweaves current and past feminist theory with current and past psychoanalytic theory in a mutually critical relation. Diana Fuss, of Princeton University, puts it this way: in the first [book], Sadoff reads the scene of metaphor psychoanalytically, in the second she reads the scene of psychoanalysis metaphorically.
Sadoff has also co-edited two important essay collections. With William E. Cain, she published Teaching Contemporary Theory to Undergraduates, the best source on that difficult endeavor; and with John Kucich, she published Victorian Afterlife: Postmodern Culture Rewrites the Nineteenth Century, a fascinating collection of essays about the survival of Victorian texts, themes, and cultural attitudes in the present.
Professor Sadoff is an experienced administrator, having served both at Miami University and in professional organizations. When she was president of the Association of Departments of English, she led a workshop for new departmental chairs that was a model of effective mentorship. She has been a regional delegate to the Modern Language Association; has served on the executive committees of the Dickens Society and the Society for the Study of Narrative Literature; and has served as a curriculum consultant and an external reviewer many times.
She is completing a book entitled Victorian Vogue: The Nineteenth Century British Novel on Screen. She will be teaching from this research this fall, when she will offer a graduate seminar on Nineteenth Century British Fiction on Film and an undergraduate course on representations of vampires, past and present. Sadoffs reputation as a teacher precedes her. Fuss has described Sadoff as a catalyzing class presence who knows how to promote discussion and how to push the level of discussion up several notches. Fuss experience of a tutorial with Sadoff at Colby College was a life-changing experience that propelled her into graduate school and inspired her career. We are lucky indeed to be able to offer our students ready access to Professor Sadoffs model of rigorous scholarly excellence and generous professional mentorship.