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Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Arts and Languages (CIDRAL)

Janet Wolff, Professor Emerita

Professor Emerita in English, American Studies and Creative Writing

I joined the University of Manchester in 2006, having taught earlier at the University of Leeds and, in recent years, in the United States.

I was director of the PhD programme in Visual and Cultural Studies at the University of Rochester, New York, from 1991 to 2001, and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in Columbia University's School of the Arts from 2001 to 2006.  My books include The Social Production of Art (1981/1993), Aesthetics and the Sociology of Art (1983/1993), Feminine Sentences: Essays on Women and Culture (1990), Resident Alien: Feminist Cultural Criticism (1995), AngloModern: Painting and Modernity in Britain and the United States (2003), and The Aesthetics of Uncertainty (2008).

My work has been on the sociology of art and culture; gender and culture; modernism and modernity; English and American early twentieth-century art; and aesthetics.

My last book, The Aesthetics of Uncertainty, addressed the problem of aesthetics after critique: the 'return to beauty', the challenge to the anti-aesthetic and the possibility of principled judgment in the light of post-critical relativism.

More recent essays discuss older women in the city; the turn to affect in cultural theory; W.G.Sebald's writing about Manchester; the poetics of sociology.

I have co-edited (with Mike Savage) a book on Manchester's cultural institutions - Culture in Manchester: institutions and cultural change since 1850; and co-edited (with Jackie Stacey) a book entitled Writing Otherwise: experiments in cultural criticism. Both were published by Manchester University Press in 2013.

On retirement from the university in July 2010, I turned to non-academic writing.  My book Austerity Baby was published by  MUP in 2017.  It combines family history, memoir, trans-Atlantic reflections, and visual imagery.