Guide to the John Felstiner Papers

Jenny Johnson
Stanford University. Libraries. Department of Special Collections and University Archives
Stanford, California
May 2012
Copyright © 2015 The Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University. All rights reserved.


Call Number: SC1113
Creator: Felstiner, John.
Title: John Felstiner papers
Dates: circa 1960s-1990s
Physical Description: 7.5 Linear feet (6 boxes)
Summary: This collection contains Felstiner's course materials and other Stanford professional files; files related to two of his publications; captions from exhibits related to four poets; and restricted files (comprised of confidential student Information).
Language(s): The materials are in English.
Repository: Department of Special Collections and University Archives
Green Library
557 Escondido Mall
Stanford, CA 94305-6064
Phone: (650) 725-1022

Administrative Information

Information about Access

Restricted files closed until January 1, 2060. Otherwise the collection is open for research; materials must be requested at least 48 hours in advance of intended use. Audio-visual materials are not available in original format, and must be reformatted to a digital use copy.

Ownership & Copyright

All requests to reproduce, publish, quote from, or otherwise use collection materials must be submitted in writing to the Head of Special Collections and University Archives, Stanford University Libraries, Stanford, California 94305-6064. Consent is given on behalf of Special Collections as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission from the copyright owner. Such permission must be obtained from the copyright owner, heir(s) or assigns. See:
Restrictions also apply to digital representations of the original materials. Use of digital files is restricted to research and educational purposes.

Cite As

[identification of item], John Felstiner Papers (SC1113). Dept. of Special Collections and University Archives, Stanford University Libraries, Stanford, Calif.

Processing Notes

Many of the folders in this collection were used and labeled several times by Felstiner. In some cases, accurate description of folder contents actually appears on the bottom of folder, near the fold.

Biographical/Historical note

John Felstiner received his A.B. (1958) and Ph.D (1965) from Harvard. In between, he spent three years on the USS Forrestal in the Mediterranean. Felstiner came to Stanford in 1965. His first book, The Lies of Art: Max Beerbohm's Parody and Caricature (1972), has to do with parody as a critical, creative, and comic form. Since then his teaching and writing have dealt mainly with modern poetry. Teaching North American poetry in Chile in 1967-68 led to Translating Neruda: The Way to Macchu Picchu (1980), which won the Commonwealth Club of California Gold Medal, and to an ongoing concern with the practice of literary translation, along with its interpretive, creative, and theoretical implications. The British Comparative Literature Association gave 1st and 2nd prizes to his Pablo Neruda and Paul Celan translations.
During the 1970s John developed critical approaches to poetry by civilians and soldiers from the Vietnam era, and after teaching at the Hebrew University in Israel (1974-75), he began studying the literature, art, photography, and music that emerged from the European Jewish catastrophe. His book on the German-speaking Jewish poet, Paul Celan: Poet, Survivor, Jew (1995), was a Finalist for the National Book Critics Circle award and the MLA's James Russell Lowell prize, and won the Truman Capote Prize for Literary Criticism.
Selected Poems and Prose of Paul Celan (Norton, 2001) won the Modern Language Association's biennial Lois Roth Award for Translation of a Literary Work, the American Translators Association's biennial award for German translation, PEN West's prize for literary translation, and was runner-up for American PEN's translation award, the Helen and Kurt Wolff Prize, and the British Society of Authors' Schlegel-Tieck prize.
John co-edited the Norton anthology, Jewish American Literature (2000). He has held Guggenheim, Rockefeller, NEH, and NEA fellowships, taught literary translation twice at Yale, and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
This Dust of Words, John's memoir of his brilliant late-Sixties student Liz Wiltsee, inspired a documentary film that is being screened at various festivals: .
After retirement, Mary Felstiner and John taught two Stanford courses, to undergrads and adults, on "creative resistance." That is, writings such as graffiti, letters, poetry, diaries, journals, chronicles, also art and photography, and music of all sorts, all emerging from victims throughout Nazi-occupied Europe.
In writing Can Poetry Save the Earth?: A Field Guide to Nature Poems (2009), on poetry and environmental urgency, John worked at the Stanford Humanities Center and the Yaddo, Macdowell, Millay, Djerassi, Mesa Refuge, and Jentel artists colonies. American Poetry Review ran six essays from this book, and NPR's Morning Edition featured it:. . Poets House in Manhattan focused on his book's theme in '09-'10. Having received a foundation grant, John is currently visiting high schools around the country to share the environmental awareness that poems can awaken in the next generation. 'Save the Earth' Poetry Prize is offered in 2012 for 11th & 12th grade high school students.

Scope and Contents

This collection contains course materials and Stanford professional files, which include: course syllabi, lecture notes, and research files, mostly related to Jewish American literature, the Holocaust, Vietnam, and poetry. There are some correspondence and other professional files related to general Stanford or departmental matters. The writing series includes files related to two of Felstiner's publications: The Lies of Art: Max Beerbohm's Parody and Caricature, and Jewish American Literature: A Norton Anthology, which Felstiner co-edited. Exhibit captions contain text from exhibits about poets Paul Celan, Franz Kafka, Max Beerbohm, and Pablo Neruda. The restricted series contains materials separated from the course materials files due to sensitive student information such as grades, student identification numbers, or other identifiying information. Files are restricted for 75 years from date of creation.

Arrangement note

This collection is divided into four series: Course materials and other Stanford professional files; Writing; Exhibit captions; and Restricted files (comprised of confidential student Information).

Access Terms

Felstiner, John.
Stanford University. Department of English.
American poetry- -20th century- -History and criticism
American poetry--20th century.
Literary criticism
Poetry, Modern
Poetry, modern--20th. century.
Translating and interpreting.

Collection Contents


Course Materials and Stanford professional files

Box 1, Folder 1


Box 1, Folder 2


Box 1, Folder 3

Holocaust Music - Still songs to sing, transparencies

Box 1, Folder 4

Johnny Payne

Box 1, Folder 5

IHUM 037B - Literature into Life

Box 1, Folder 6

IHUM 037B - Literature into Life, handouts

Box 1, Folder 7

164A - Texts

Box 1, Folder 8

Responses to "Seeing the 2nd Sex"/37B 2006

Box 1, Folder 9


Box 1, Folder 10

164A - Articles

Box 1, Folder 11

164A - Bibliography

Box 1, Folder 12

164A - Originals

Box 1, Folder 13


Box 1, Folder 14

Learning Magazine

Box 1, Folder 15

164A - Holocaust, notes

Box 1, Folder 16


Box 1, Folder 17

Poets, A - G

Box 1, Folder 18

Poets, G - L

Box 1, Folder 19

Poets, M - Z

Box 1, Folder 20

Holocaust Poetry, A-Z

Box 1, Folder 21

Egl 140A - Creative Resistance and the Holocaust 2009

Box 2, Folder 1

American Poetry

Box 2, Folder 4

SOC 41/PS 181 1976-1977

Box 2, Folder 5

Egl 60/160A - American Jewish Writing 1977-1978

Box 2, Folder 6

Skidmore - Jewish Studies, texts, notes

Box 2, Folder 7

Jewish American Lit - 161D 2002

Box 2, Folder 8

Holocaust clippings

Box 2, Folder 9

Celan - Multiple Copies

Box 2, Folder 10

Holocaust Materials 2001

Box 2, Folder 11

Holocaust Clippings

Box 2, Folder 12

Holocaust Clippings, etc.

Box 2, Folder 13

164B Holocaust Materials recent 1999-2000

Box 2, Folder 15

Jewish American Lit - transparencies

Box 2, Folder 16


Box 3, Folder 1

117-119: Lecture notes

Box 3, Folder 2

Modern British Comic Writers

Box 3, Folder 3

Freshman English

Box 3, Folder 4

Humanities Center

Box 3, Folder 5

Crow - Women Poets

Box 3, Folder 6

Women Writers - Dialogues 1980

Box 3, Folder 7

Yeats, Eliot

Box 3, Folder 8

Jewish Studies 1986

Box 3, Folder 9

Modern British Comic Writers - Notes

Box 3, Folder 10

Early Poetry Classes

Box 3, Folder 11

Modern Brit. Comic 1981

Box 3, Folder 12


Box 3, Folder 13

American Jewish Lit - Early notes

Box 3, Folder 14

Jewish Studies

Box 3, Folder 15

160C Ruth Wisse 1983

Box 3, Folder 16

Chimen Abramsky Hist 125B 1980

Box 3, Folder 17

Hebrew H. U. Jerusalem 1974-1975

Box 3, Folder 18

259C Contemporary Hebrew Poetry

Box 3, Folder 19

Holocaust and Memorial/Education Fund 1996 Oct 15

Box 3, Folder 20

I. A. Richards course at Harvard 1961

Box 3, Folder 21

Letters from Stanford people

Box 3, Folder 22

SULAIR Annual Report 1972-1973

Box 3, Folder 34

Glosses - The Stanford Undergraduate Literary Journal

Box 3, Folder 35

On One Foot

Box 3, Folder 36


Box 4, Folder 1


Box 4, Folder 2


Box 4, Folder 3


Box 4, Folder 4


Box 4, Folder 5


Box 4, Folder 6


Box 4, Folder 7

Vietnam Articles

Box 4, Folder 8


Box 4, Folder 9


Box 4, Folder 10


Box 4, Folder 11

Vietnam - Stanford Observer 1976

Box 4, Folder 12


Box 4, Folder 13

Vietnam - notes

Box 4, Folder 14

154B Master Cop's

Box 4, Folder 15

Vietnam - correspondence

Box 4, Folder 16


Box 4, Folder 17

Engl 50 - American Poetry

Box 4, Folder 18

Engl 50 - American Poetry - handouts, poems

Box 4, Folder 19


Box 4, Folder 20

150 - Lecture notes

Box 4, Folder 21

150 etc - Modern Poetry - Materials, various

Box 4, Folder 22

259B North American and Latin American Poetry

Box 4, Folder 23

Engl [?] Handouts

Box 4, Folder 24


Box 4, Folder 25


Box 4, Folder 26


Box 4, Folder 27

Misc Course Material

Box 4, Folder 28

Environment Course Reader




Jewish American Literature (Norton Anthology)

Box 2, Folder 2


Box 2, Folder 3


Box 2, Folder 14


Box 2, Folder 17

Norton Anthology Jewish American Literature - Reviews and letters

Box 2, Folder 18

Translations - Rilke; Bibliography

Box 2, Folder 19

Jewish American Lit

Box 2, Folder 21

Teaching the Jewish Experience in America: Units and Resources

Box 2, Folder 20

Norton - Bibliographies

Box 2, Folder 22

Jewish American Lit - bios

Box 2, Folder 23

Jewish Experience in America



Box 3, Folder 23

Photo - Cecile Beaton

Box 3, Folder 24

Correspondence 1996

Box 3, Folder 25

A Christmas Garland, mss/tss

Box 3, Folder 26


Box 3, Folder 27


Box 3, Folder 28

Beerbohm Photos

Box 3, Folder 29

Beerbohm - Illustration copies

Box 3, Folder 30

Caricatures of Twenty Five Gentlemen

Box 3, Folder 31

J.F. Talk on Beerbohm

Box 3, Folder 32

Photographs - Caricatures

Box 3, Folder 33

Photographs - Caricatures

Box 5, Folder 5



Exhibit Captions

Box 5, Folder 1


Box 5, Folder 2


Box 5, Folder 3


Box 5, Folder 4



Restricted Files

Access Information

Restricted 75 years from date of creation.