Cover photo for Susan Friedman's Obituary
Susan Friedman Profile Photo
1943 Susan 2023

Susan Friedman

1943 — January 1, 2023

Susan Stanford Friedman, a beloved mother, grandmother, wife, scholar, mentor, and friend, died February 26, 2023, aged 79, after a valiant but unwinnable fight with pancreatic cancer. Susan was a fierce supporter of her family, friends, colleagues, and students. She was kind and compassionate, generous with her time, and an inspiration to many. She was outraged by injustice and passionate about supporting marginalized voices and communities.

A world-renowned modernist scholar, Professor Emerita Friedman was a trailblazer in teaching world literature that represented all cultures and backgrounds. She was a mentor to so many students and colleagues, deeply influencing their lives. She served as Director of the UW - Madison Institute for Research in the Humanities, chaired the UW English Department, was a founding member of the UW Women’s Studies program, and published widely in modernist studies, narrative theory, feminist theory, women’s writing, migration and diaspora, world literature, religious studies, and psychoanalysis. Susan was the recipient of many honors and awards, including a Chaired Professorship, the Perkins Prize for Best Book in Narrative Studies, the Wayne C. Booth Award for Lifetime Achievement in Narrative Studies, Hilldale Professor in the Humanities, and numerous teaching awards. She was a sought after lecturer at universities all over the world and had her work translated into 11 different languages.

Susan was born in Bluefield, West Virginia to Ralph and Anne Stanford. She graduated from Swarthmore College and received her Ph.D. in English Literature from UW-Madison. Susan’s greatest joy came from her role as mom and grandma. She was deeply proud of her daughters’ accomplishments and looked forward to spending time with her grandchildren and watching them flourish. She relished mornings spent in the kitchen nook with her beloved husband while watching the birds at her birdfeeders and completing the paper’s daily crossword puzzle. She enjoyed walking and kayaking at Lake Wingra; cooking for and hosting friends; traveling the world; swimming in the ocean, especially Block Island, Rhode Island where she traveled annually for 50 years; cheering on Badger football and basketball; and drinking a good Manhattan. She also had a vicious forehand on the tennis court.  A resident of Madison for more than 50 years, Susan is survived by her husband, Professor Emeritus Edward Friedman; her children, Ruth and Joanna; their husbands, Pete and Ahmed; her grandsons, Dylan Weber and Nazar El-Baltimy; her sisters, Beth and Jeanne; her nieces and nephew, Anne, Emily, and Karl; and a community of close friends. She was predeceased by her cherished grandson Owen Weber. She is missed and  remembered.

A memorial service to celebrate Susan’s life will be held at 11am April 15th in the Atrium at First Unitarian Society. 900 University Bay Drive in Madison. A gathering to celebrate her work and achievements will be held later this year.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Susan Friedman, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

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Saturday, April 15, 2023

Starts at 11:00 am (Central time)

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