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Fran Paden


Frances Freeman Paden (Ph.D. Northwestern University) retired with Emeritus status in 2010, after 21 years on the faculty of Gender and Sexuality Studies and the Bobbie and Stanley Cook Family Writing Program.  In 1998 she was named the Charles Deering McCormick University Distinguished University Lecturer. Working closely with colleagues and students, she offered progressive leadership in gender equity and minority rights. Within the classroom and elsewhere, she encouraged critical thinking and creative invention.

Fran was a long-standing member of the Gender and Sexuality Studies advisory board, serving as Director of Undergraduate Studies (1995-2004) and as Interim Program Director (1999-2000).  A member of the steering committees for the Center for the Writing Arts and the Women’s Center, she co-chaired the Organization of Women Faculty (1996-1998), and was joint master of Women’s Residential College (1999-2003). With the support of Hewlett grants, Fran developed a signature course, Writing Women’s Lives, which she taught under the rubrics of the Writing Program and Gender/Sexuality Studies. She also taught freshman seminars, gender theory, autobiography, and advanced composition.

Fran’s research has centered on poetry, life writing, translation, and performance. In her last years at Northwestern, she wrote “Emblematic Sculptures: Autobiography and the Artwork of Felix Gonzalez-Torres” for Teaching Life Writing Texts (MLA, 2007), and, with William D. Paden, Troubadour Poems from the South of France (Cambridge, UK, 2007, paperback, 2014). Together, the Padens also published “Swollen Woman, Shifting Canon: A Midwife’s Charm and the Birth of Secular Romance Lyric”(PMLA, 2010).

In retirement, while finding time for music, theatre, and travel, Fran has returned to the writing life. She is working on a biography of an American artist and social reformer, Adelene Moffat (1862-1956), while continuing to translate troubadour poetry.