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Gabriella Friedman

Gabriella Friedman

Educational Background

Cornell University, MA
Whitman College, BA



Gabriella Friedman is a scholar of contemporary literature and American studies. Her dissertation argues that Native American and African American speculative fiction reconfigures the historical novel in order to generate decolonial and abolitionist historicizing practices. Through case studies on Colson Whitehead, Blake Hausman, Octavia E. Butler, and Leslie Marmon Silko, this project unsettles long-standing assumptions about historical fiction and foregrounds literature’s potential to enact (rather than only imagine) a more just world.

A selection from the dissertation was awarded Cornell’s 2017-2018 Moses Coit Tyler Prize for the best essay by a graduate or undergraduate student in the fields of American history, literature, or folklore. In summer 2018, Gabriella conducted dissertation research using the Octavia E. Butler Papers with the support of a John Brockway Huntington Foundation Fellowship from The Huntington Library.

Gabriella’s article on Toni Morrison’s A Mercy appeared in Modern Fiction Studies in Summer 2018. She also published a book review in MELUS.

Gabriella has taught two First-Year Writing Seminars at Cornell, “Great New Books” and “American Ghosts.” She has also served as a co-facilitator of “Teaching Writing,” a course for new graduate instructors. Supported by a departmental Graduate Teaching Fellowship, she is currently creating a new course, “Speculative Histories of Slavery and Colonialism,” based on her dissertation work but designed for undergraduates. Finally, through the Cornell Prison Education Program, she is teaching “(Not) at Home in Multiethnic American Literatures” at Cayuga Correctional Facility.


  • English


  • 20th and 21st century American literature
  • Native American and Indigenous Studies
  • Black studies
  • Speculative Fiction
  • Historical Fiction


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