Susan Signe Morrison


HOME FRONT GIRL: A DIARY OF LOVE, LITERATURE, AND GROWING UP IN WARTIME AMERICA

Biography

Susan Signe Morrison, Professor of English literature at Texas State University – San Marcos, is the author of two books on the Middle Ages: Women Pilgrims in Late Medieval England: Private Piety as Public Performance (London: Routledge, 2000) and Excrement in the Late Middle Ages: Sacred Filth and Chaucer’s Fecopoetics (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008).

Susan's new book is entitled Home Front Girl: A Diary of Love, Literature, and Growing up in Wartime America. After her mother, Joan Wehlen Morrison, died in 2010, hundreds of poems and journal entries written were found, composed by her as a child starting from when she was 9 years old in 1932. Not seen in seven decades, this time capsule allows us to witness the life of a young American girl growing up in Chicago in the wake of the Depression as World War II neared and finally began. This volume contains an edited version of her writings from the 1930s and 1940s. All material is taken from Joan’s writings, is told in her voice, is identified by date and is ordered chronologically. We experience Joan’s emotional and intellectual development, from juvenile enthusiasms to mature meditations. The time in this volume focuses on 1937-1943. The arc of the narrative traces Joan’s political and emotional consciousness as she ages from 14 to 20.

The only daughter of a working class Swedish immigrant with socialist political convictions and his wife, Joan was born in Chicago on December 20, 1922. Her reactions to world events can be profound reflections on the impending death of her generation. She interweaves the hi-jinks of her high school and college crowd with insights into cultural events. As early as 1937, Joan believes that the year 1940 will be a decisive year in history. A pacifist, she learns to bandage for the Red Cross and works in a factory inspecting cans for the war. Joan’s passion for classical literature and culture enables her to come to see the bombings of London and Berlin as examples of another Troy, Troy being the city tragically besieged by the ancient Greeks in Homer’s epic, The Iliad.

Susan's BA is from Swarthmore College and her A.M./​Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from Brown University. She has studied in Germany and taught in the former East Germany. Susan’s publications have appeared in such journals as The Yearbook of Langland Studies, Medievalia et Humanistica, Medieval Feminist Forum, The Chaucer Review, Exemplaria: A Journal of Theory in Medieval and Renaissance Studies, The New York Times, Women In German Yearbook , Journal of Popular Culture , Amsterdamer Beiträge zur älteren Germanistik, as well as numerous book chapters. She lives in Austin, Texas with her husband, daughter and son.

Selected Works

Young Adult Nonfiction; History
This recently uncovered diary provides a window into the everyday life of a precocious American girl living in an extraordinary time.
Medieval Literature
Medieval perceptions of filth and waste in the late Middle Ages as applied to Chaucer's Canterbury Tales.
Medieval History
Medieval perceptions of pilgrimage, gender and space. Real life evidence for medieval women pilgrims.