Showalter to retire; pursue trans-Atlantic journalism

By Karin Dienst

Princeton NJ -- Elaine Showalter is retiring from Princeton at the end of this semester to focus on what she describes as her "second identity as a journalist."

"I'm looking forward to a job change, a life change and a move," Showalter said. "My friend Joyce Carol Oates says that 'the psyche does not discriminate between good and bad news,' and so with wonderful and big changes you can expect a little turbulence. But I'm very excited and happy about it."

Showalter and her husband will be dividing time between Washington, D.C., where their grand- children live, and London, for her journalism work. "I've been spending a lot of time in London for many years and have a kind of second identity there as a journalist, which I hope to continue and expand," she said.

Showalter's journalism career came about through book reviewing, and then she moved on to reviewing movies, theater, opera, art exhibits, fashion, architecture and sports. "I discussed the soccer World Cup for the BBC," she said. "My English male friends were so annoyed with me because it is the dream of every English male to do this. I had to pass an audition to get the chance. But I love English football."

Having written for the major newspapers in England, Showalter is now under contract to The Guardian, writing exclusively for the paper on culture and books. She also has written for several magazines in the United States, including People, Vogue, Allure and the more academic ones such as The American Prospect and The New Republic. "I've enjoyed writing for all of them very much," she said. "It's incredibly stimulating and brings me into contact with all kinds of new ideas."

Over the last decade, Showalter has expanded her work in the English media to include radio and television, all live. "I talk about culture, and medicine, and over the last several months I did an enormous amount of political journalism, beginning with Sept. 11," she said. "I was one of the two Americans living in London who BBC television called for their broadcast that night. It was both daunting and energizing."

Showalter also is continuing her academic writing, with three books scheduled for publication over the next three years. She is working on a book about the Anglo-American academic novel, called "Faculty Towers," which is due out from the University of Pennsylvania Press next year. Her literary history of American women writers from the beginnings to 2000, called "A Jury of Her Peers," will be published by Knopf in 2006, as well as "American Women Writers," an anthology.

A teacher most of her life, Showalter will always remember her students at Princeton. "From the moment I got here I've had the most wonderful students," she said. "What a privilege. They are such a joy to work with."

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