The University Record, October 1, 2001

Patricia Yaeger—Faculty Recognition Award

Yaeger (Photo by Bob Kalmbach, U-M Photo Services)
Literary critic Patricia Yaeger is a leading authority on writers of the American South and of Southern history and culture more generally. She also is an indispensable and effective administrator in the Department of English Language and Literature and an admired professor of English and of women’s studies.

In her highly successful first book Honey-Mad Women: Emancipatory Strategies in Women’s Writing (Columbia University Press 1988), Professor Yaeger describes the ways in which language is tapped by resourceful women writers as a liberating strategy. The book—a model for analysis of women’s writing strategies—is a landmark work in feminist studies.

Her most recent book, Dirt and Desire: Reconstructing Southern Women’s Writing (University of Chicago Press 2000), is revolutionary, both in style and content. The book’s commingling of white and black women writers challenges the truisms of Southern studies and uncovers a litany of under-examined tropes of gargantuan women, landscapes made out of throwaway bodies, and whiteness as pollution, as well as images of the female grotesque. Professor Yaeger’s wide intellectual range is illustrated by the dozens of essays she has published on topics that lie outside the compass of her books. Many of her articles have been reprinted in widely-read anthologies.

Since joining the faculty in 1990, Professor Yaeger has served on the English department’s executive, hiring, and tenure committees. She also has directed, for the past two years, English’s First and Second Year Studies program, which oversees first year-composition courses, as well as the pedagogical training of lecturers and graduate student instructors. Ambitious and adventurous in her own teaching and mentoring, Professor Yaeger was one of the catalysts for a new team-taught course on multicultural and multiracial literatures of the United States.

Professor Yaeger has served on the editorial boards of top journals such as Proceedings of the Modern Language Association, Modern Fiction Studies, and Contemporary Literature, and frequently gives the keynote lecture at scholarly conferences. She has received many honors, including American Council of Learned Societies, Bunting, and National Endowment for the Humanities Faculty fellowships; the LS&A Excellence in Education Award; and an Amoco Undergraduate Teaching Award.

For her original and provocative criticism; her contributions to Southern American literature, as a scholar and as a teacher; and for her leadership, the University of Michigan proudly presents to Patricia Yaeger its Faculty Recognition Award.