Open-uri20180428-4-lk6h8p_thumb

SUSAN HARLAN

WRITER/ENGLISH PROFESSOR

WINSTON-SALEM, NC

SUSAN HARLAN

OBJECTS. PLACES. MEMORIES. FUNNY THINGS.

Open-uri20190307-4-1vhiwms_profile

An Attempt to See Paris Through the Eyes of Georges Perec

Reflections on the infra-ordinary.
Literary Hub Link to Story
Open-uri20180831-4-k2sck8_profile

Searching for Souvenirs at Dollywood

Souvenirs are, in many ways, generic, particularly the mass-produced variety you buy at a theme park, as opposed to a seashell you might bring home from a trip to the beach. But, like Dolly herself, souvenirs can embody contradictions. If they are seemingly impersonal, they can also be personal. They can be material memories. There is something talismanic about them. And something ineffable, as if they might have powers that language does not. Once you’re home, a souvenir might be the only thing that remains from your trip, a reminder of the irrecoverable. Souvenirs try to transform an experience into an object.
Racked National Link to Story
Open-uri20180130-4-1748mbp_profile

Going Through Blanche DuBois’s Luggage

There is no piece of luggage quite like Blanche DuBois’s trunk in A Streetcar Named Desire. This object contains the life, or the life traces, of one of Tennessee Williams’s most enduring characters. Actors love Blanche for the same reason that they love Hamlet: she is an actor, and she understands what actors understand—that artifice is not the opposite of truth but a means of achieving it.
The Paris Review Link to Story
Open-uri20180119-4-jfljl7_profile

How to Read Caves

When I was a kid, I went on a class trip to Moaning Cavern in the Gold Country of California. Moaning Cavern. The name was horrifying: the sense that this place moaned, that it had a voice. We had to walk down into the earth, down a metal spiral staircase that was enclosed like a cage, and I was sure that the stairs would collapse, and I would fall, just like Alice in the rabbit hole, her pale blue skirt billowing out into a parachute, into nothing.
Literary Hub Link to Story
Open-uri20150617-3-r0vuun_profile

In Praise of the Book Tower

“I don’t think book towers would work for me,” wrote one reader. “I would go completely bonkers with the books stacked everywhere,” said another. Bonkers, I thought. I have driven this woman mad. I was reading the comments section of the “House Tour” of my North Carolina home on the design site Apartment Therapy.
Literary Hub Link to Story
Open-uri20150131-3-15hvern_profile

The Retreat

Last year, I opted out of Thanksgiving. I had never failed to celebrate a major holiday before. When I used to live in New York City, I was accustomed to spending Thanksgivings with friends and their families as my own family was far away in California.
The Morning News Link to Story
Open-uri20150131-3-1ytbc8x_profile

Notes Concerning the Objects That Are On My Front Porch

It was a careful process, and sometimes I put things out there and thought about it for an hour, or a day, and then brought them back inside and stuffed them in a closet or a drawer.Sometimes they were not right; they seemed to push back against the universe. But then other things were right, and they knew that they should be out there on the porch, in the night air, and they tucked themselves into this world and stayed there.
The Bitter Southerner Link to Story
Open-uri20190518-4-17tqopc_profile

Front Porch

Once I—with someone else (because you need someone else for such a thing)—once I transformed my front porch into a boat.
The Rambling Link to Story
Open-uri20190424-4-149ewf6_profile

January in the Jardin de Luxembourg

Today the gardens are made of four colors: the white-gray of the sky and the statues, the black of the branches, the green of the grass and chairs and benches, and the tan of the gravel paths. These should be four distinct colors, yet only the green stands out. The others are just versions of the same color, an ancient neutral, the color of nothing.
The Common Link to Story
Open-uri20190424-4-y6lwgt_profile

Saying Goodbye to My Beloved Local Bookstore

Bright Leaf Books in Winton-Salem, NC closed early last month. It was just a small bookstore in a small city, but it was my bookstore for the last couple of years. It opened in the spring of 2017, on Fifth Street downtown. It was the first bookstore downtown. And it was walking distance from my house.
Literary Hub Link to Story
Open-uri20190311-4-10buca7_profile

A Poem About Your University’s Absolute Intention to Absolutely Deal With Institutional Racism Seriously Absolutely Any Minute Now and Certainly One Day

Dear University Community...
McSweeney's Internet Tendency Link to Story
Open-uri20190128-4-1ov5o5q_profile

Things To Do When You’re Jet Lagged

Walk up a street and down another.
The Brooklyn Quarterly Link to Story

About

SUSAN HARLAN

Susan Harlan is a writer based in Winston-Salem, NC, who is particularly interested in the relationship between place, memory, and objects. Her essays have appeared in publications including The Guardian US, The Paris Review Daily, Guernica, Roads & Kingdoms, The Morning News, The Awl, Curbed, Racked, Atlas Obscura, The Common, The Toast, Nowhere, Literary Hub, The Bitter Southerner, McSweeney's Internet Tendency, The Brooklyn Quarterly, Avidly, and Public Books. She also writes about feminist issues for venues such as Jezebel, Literary Mothers, The Feminist Wire, DAME, Skirt!, The Hairpin, The Establishment, Queen Mob's Tea House, The Belladonna, The South Carolina Review, and The Manifest-Station. She holds a Ph.D. in English Literature from New York University and an M.A. in English Renaissance theater history from King’s College London and teaches English at Wake Forest University. Her book Luggage was published in the Bloomsbury series Object Lessons in March 2018. Her book Decorating a Room of One's Own, a humorous mash-up of home design reportage and literary homes based on her column for The Toast, will be published by Abrams in October 2018.

She is represented by Jim McCarthy of Dystel, Goderich & Bourret Literary Management.

Photo credit Sarah Torretta Klock.

Open-uri20180428-4-lk6h8p_profile_large

www.susan-harlan.com

Skills

  • Teaching
  • Writing