Photo of Franny Nudelman

Franny Nudelman


Degrees:B.A., Ph.D. (California at Berkeley)
Phone:613-520-2600 x 1773
Office:1905 Dunton Tower

Research Interests

  • United States Culture, Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries
  • War and Peace Studies
  • Documentary Studies
  • African American Culture
  • Cultural Activism

Research and Writing

My research, writing, and teaching have focused on nineteenth- and twentieth century U.S. culture, with an emphasis on cultural responses to the problem of war. Before arriving at Carleton in 2006, I worked as an assistant professor in Yale University’s departments of English and American Studies (1992-97), and as an assistant and associate professor in the University of Virginia’s department of English and program in American Studies (1997-2006). While in Virginia, I wrote my first book, John Brown’s Body: Slavery, Violence, and the Culture of War (University of North Carolina Press, 2004), which examines representations of dead soldiers during the U.S. Civil War in light of a history of racial violence inflicted on free and enslaved African Americans during the antebellum period.

Since arriving at Carleton in 2006, my work has focused on U.S. culture after 1945 with an emphasis on radical documentary and war resistance in the context of American military expansion. With Joseph Entin and Sara Blair, I have edited a volume of essays entitled Remaking Reality: U.S. Documentary Culture After 1945 (  Examining a wide range of forms and media, including sound recording, narrative journalism, drawing, photography, film, and video, Remaking Reality explores the flourishing of documentary activism in the contemporary period, and argues that after 1945 documentarians reconceived “reality” as the site of political conflict, and documentation as instrumental to anti-institutional struggles for justice and survival. I recently published a book on sleep and U.S. militarism, Fighting Sleep: The War for the Mind and the US Military (Verso Books, 2019), that considers experiments in sleep, conducted between 1945 and the present, that have shaped, and reshaped, our understanding of war and its effects on the mind. Fighting Sleep examines the work of military psychiatrists who, in the immediate aftermath of WWII, used drug-induced sleep to heal traumatized veterans and to pioneer the techniques of brainwashing, and the activism of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War, who politicized sleep states in the service of war resistance, and turned sleep into a form of direct action. Recent published essays on the subject of war and documentary include “‘Marked for Demolition’: Mary McCarthy’s Vietnam Journalism,” American Literature (June 2013), “Against Photography: Susan Sontag’s Vietnam,” Photography and Culture (Winter 2014), “New Soldiers and Empty Boys: Imaging Traumatic Memory,” Visual Studies 30 (June 2015).

Honors and Awards

Carleton University Development Grant, 2017-18

Collaborator, SSHRC Insight Development Grant, “Feeling Life: Biopolitics, Literature, and Sentimentality,” Principal Investigators: Stuart Murray (Carleton) and Julie Murray (Carleton), 2016–2018

SSHRC Standard Research Grant, Anti-War Avant-Garde: Radical Documentary in the United States, 1945-1974, 2009-2012

SSHRC Institutional Grant, 2008-2009, 2007-2008

External Faculty Fellowship, Center for the Humanities, Oregon State University, 2002-2003

Sesquicentennial Associateship, University of Virginia, January-December 2001

Morse Junior Faculty Fellowship, Yale University, 1995-96


Fighting Sleep: The War for the Mind and the US Military (Verso Books, 2019)

Remaking Reality: U.S. Documentary After 1945, co-edited with Sara Blair and Joseph Entin (University of North Carolina Press, 2018)

John Brown’s Body: Slavery, Violence, and the Culture of War (Cultural Studies of the United States Series, University of North Carolina Press, 2004)

Articles and Reviews

“The Document” (an essay on British photojournalist Tim Hetherington) in A Concise Companion to Visual Culture, eds. Aubrey Anable, Joan Saab, Catherine Zuromskis (Wiley Blackwell, 2021)

“Death in Life: Documenting Survival After Hiroshima,” in Remaking Reality: U.S. Documentary Culture After 1945 (University of North Carolina Press, April 2018)

“Reporting Nuclear Dread: The Stranger at Didion’s Door,” a/b: Auto/biography Studies 32 (Autumn 2016): 591-96

“New Soldiers and Empty Boys: Imaging Traumatic Memory,” Visual Studies 30 (June 2015): 210-221

“Take Me to the River,” Review Essay on Katherine Boo’s Behind the Beautiful Forevers and Rana Dasgupta’s Capital, Contemporary Literature (Spring 2015): 181-190

“Against Photography: Susan Sontag’s Vietnam,” Photography and Culture 7.1 (2014): 7:20

‘Marked for Demolition’: Mary McCarthy’s Vietnam Journalism,” American Literature 85.2 (2013): 363-87

“Trip to Hanoi: Anti-War Travel and International Consciousness,” in New World Coming: The Sixties and the Shaping of Global Consciousness, eds. Karen Dubinsky, Catherine Krull, Susan Lord, Sean Mills, Scott Rutherford (Between the Lines, 2009): 237-246

Review of Sharon Cameron’s Impersonality and Branka Arsic’s Passive Constitutions, American Literature (September 2009)

“‘The Blood of Millions’: John Brown’s Body, Public Violence, and Political Community,” American Literary History (Winter 2001). Reprinted in Afterlife of John Brown, eds. Eldrid Herrington and Andrew Taylor (Palgrave Press, 2005)

“‘Ghosts Might Enter Here’: Toward a Reader’s History,” in Scribbling Women: Engendering and Empowering the Hawthorne Tradition, eds. Melinda Ponder and John Idol (University of Massachusetts Press, 1999)

Review of Caroline Levander’s Voices of the Nation: Women and Public Speech in Nineteenth-Century Literature and Culture, American Literature (September 1999)

“‘Emblem and Product of Sin’: The Poisoned Child in The Scarlet Letter and Domestic Advice Literature,” The Yale Journal of Criticism 10 (Spring 1997)

“Beyond the Talking Cure: Listening to Female Testimony on The Oprah Winfrey Show,” in Inventing the Psychological: Toward a History of Emotional Life in America, eds. Joel Pfister and Nancy Schnog (Yale University Press, 1997): 297-315

“Harriet Jacobs and the Sentimental Politics of Female Suffering,” English Literary History 59 (1992)


Guest Blog, “Trip to Hanoi,” Cold War Camera, July 2013

Developed and taught online seminar for high school teachers on the roots of the 1960’s counterculture, sponsored by the National Center for the Humanities

Developed and taught online seminar for high school teachers on Walt Whitman’s Civil War poetry, sponsored by the National Center for the Humanities

Invited Lectures and Presentations (selected)

“Sleeping Soldiers: Experiments in Militarism and Resistance,” Keynote Address, delivered at Militarism, Security, and the Use of Force in U.S. History, Annual Conference of Historians, German American Studies Association, February 21-23, 2014

“Veterans’ Nightmares: Trauma, Activism, and ‘The New Soldier,’” Miami University, Department of English, November 2011

“Marching On: Burial, Memory, Progress,” Keynote Address, John Brown Day, John Brown State Historic Site, Lake Placid, New York, May 2010

“John Brown, Martin Luther King, and the Art of ‘Creative Suffering,’” John Brown, Abolition, and the Legacies of Revolutionary Violence: A Conference Commemorating the 150th Anniversary of the Harpers Ferry Raid, Gilder Lehrman Center, Yale University, October 2009

“Making it New: Consumption and Consciousness on the Trip to Hanoi,” Oklahoma State University, American Studies Lecture Series, April 17, 2008

“Radical Scavengers and Winter Soldiers: Documenting the War in Vietnam,” Institute for Historical Studies, University of Michigan, February 2006

“‘This Guilty Land’: Black Soldiers, Military Discipline, and the Wartime State,” Interdisciplinary Civil War Symposium, Lawrence University, April 2005

“Getting to Gettysburg: On Teaching Civil War History,” Gibbs Museum, Charleston, South Carolina, April 1995

Recent Presentations (selected)

“Reframing Postmortem Photography: Tim Hetherington’s Sleeping Soldiers,” Reframing Family Photography Conference, University of Toronto, September 2017

“Flying Blind: Repurposing Aerial Vision in Richard Mosse’s ‘Enclave,’” American Studies Association, 2016

Roundtable Participant, “On Joan Didion: Essayist, Journalist, Memoirist, Novelist,” Modern Language Association Convention, January 2016

“Sleeping Soldiers: Tim Hetherington RIP,” presented at the Association for the Study of the Arts of the Present, September 2016

Organizer and Presenter, “Militarism and the Environment: Ecology, Psychology, Technology,” European Association for American Studies, The Hague, April 2014

“Activism’s Aftermath: Susan Sontag’s On Photography,” Capture 2012: Photography, Nature, Human Rights, Yale University, October 2012

“Walking Again,” American Comparative Literature Association Annual Conference, April 2013

“Winter Soldiers: Trauma and Activism from Vietnam to Iraq,” American Studies Association, November 2012

Organizer and Presenter, Roundtable on Documentary Work in the US, 1945-1989, American Studies Association, October 2011

“Sleeping In: Rest and Resistance at Dewey Canyon III,” Post-45 Collective, University of Missouri, November 2009

Recent Ph.D. Supervisions

Andrew Connolly, “I Used to Speak in Tongues: Spirituality and Pentecostal Deconversion Narratives” (April 2015)

Robert Mousseau, “Therapeutic Reading: Self-Reflection and Social Awareness in Contemporary American Literature” (September 2016)

Robert Hutton, “Comics and Literature: A Love Story” (Co-supervised with Brian Johnson, September 2017)