Dr Ben Fried

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Dr Ben Fried
PhD (Cornell University, 2022)
British Academy Newton International Fellow
Institute of English Studies
Institute of English Studies School of Advanced Study University of London Senate House Malet Street London WC1E 7HU
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Research Summary and Profile

Research interests:
Colonies & Colonization, emigration & immigration, Communities, Classes, Races, English Literature, History of the book
Africa, Australasia, Caribbean, North America, United Kingdom
Summary of research interests and expertise:

I am a British Academy Newton International Fellow at the Institute of English Studies, where I am undertaking a research project on “Migrant Editors: Postwar Migration and the Making of Anglophone Literatures, 1967-1989.” This project draws on numerous archives and original interviews to explore the postwar transformation of London’s publishing houses and magazines by immigrants from the wider Anglophone world, among them Margaret Busby (Allison & Busby), Carmen Callil (Virago Press), Sonny Mehta (Picador), and Bill Buford (Granta magazine).

I received my doctorate from Cornell University in 2022. My first book project, The Empire of English Literature: Editing the Global Anglophone, 1947-1993, excavates the role of editors in enlarging literatures in English, examining the writer-editor relationships that shaped the BBC as it broadcast Trinidadian and Nigerian narratives; The New Yorker as it published Canadian and Irish authors; and Penguin Books as it spread to Australia and India. My work has been published in African American Review and is forthcoming in such venues as Post45, as well as in the volumes Modernist Archives: A Handbook (Bloomsbury Academic) and Mapping World Anglophone Studies (Routledge). My teaching ranges across modern and contemporary Anglophone, American, and British literatures. Additionally, I am leading a project to digitize Cornell’s Bombay Poets Archive.

I previously earned an MPhil at the University of Cambridge, as a Gates Cambridge Scholar, and a BA Hons at McGill University, where I received the Shakespeare Gold Medal.

Spoken Written
French Fluent Intermediate
Spanish Intermediate Intermediate
Italian Good Good
Publication Details

Related publications/articles:

Date Details
04-Sep-2023 “The Most Sympathetic Reader You Can Imagine”: William Maxwell’s New Yorker and the Midcentury Short Story

Journal articles

William Maxwell is perhaps the most significant and least studied of twentieth-century American literary editors. As a case study in the uses of editorial power, he accentuates the contradictory qualities of his profession, being at once uncommonly recessive and uncommonly influential. Fiction editor at The New Yorker from 1936 to 1975, Maxwell possessed an unrivalled proximity to the emerging canon of mid-century short fiction—yet was celebrated among his authors for the lightness of his touch. Drawing on The New Yorker records, the Maxwell Papers, and interviews with still-living colleagues, this article in Post45 offers the first sustained, scholarly inquiry into Maxwell’s editorial practice. It examines, in turn, the affinity between Maxwell’s editing and his own fiction; the contrasting nature of his working relationships with three of the century’s leading short-story writers, John Updike, John Cheever, and Mavis Gallant; and finally Maxwell’s place within both his magazine and the larger ecosystem of postwar American editing. I argue that Maxwell at once enforced and expanded the company line, policing The New Yorker’s narrower notions of realism while drawing ever more wide-ranging autobiographical story sequences from a constellation of writers.

02-May-2022 James Baldwin’s Readers: White Innocence and the Reception of “Letter from a Region in My Mind”

Journal articles

In 1962, James Baldwin became the second Black contributor to The New Yorker, appearing at a crossroads in his career and the magazine’s history. This article in African American Review reconstructs the editorial development and critical afterlife of “Letter from a Region in My Mind,” arguing that the essay’s reception by white readers is already present in its gestation. A conversion tale, “Letter” attempts to extricate its audience from the American tradition of willful white innocence. Baldwin’s readers, from William Shawn to the author’s recent revival, set in motion the essay’s machinery of reciprocal reflection—its chiasmus of style and substance—with imperfect but enduring results. "James Baldwin's Readers" was awarded "Mention of Honor" for African American Review’s Darwin T. Turner Award (“best essay overall”).

Research Projects & Supervisions

Research projects:


Migrant Editors: Postwar Migration and the Making of Anglophone Literatures, 1967-1989 Institute of English Studies
Project period: 01-Feb-2023 - 31-Jan-2025

Research interests: Communities, Classes, Races, English Literature, History of the book

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