Associate Professor Emeritus Susan Gardner died on January 2, 2022. Gardner joined UNC Charlotte’s English Department in 1990 and had taught in the United States, South Africa, Denmark, and New Guinea.
Colleagues described Gardner as a strong advocate for diversity and global engagement who was vibrant, thoughful, kind, and generous to students and colleagues. A memorial service is planned for later in the spring.
Gardner edited or co-edited three books before coming to UNC Charlotte, including Bessie Head: A Bibliography (National English Literary Museum Bibliographic Series No. 1, Grahamstown, South Africa), Four South African Poets: Robert Berold, Jeremy Cronin, Douglas Reid Skinner, and Stephen Watson (National English Literary Museum Interview Series 1, Grahamstown, South Africa), and Miles Franklin’s My Brilliant Career (South African Matriculation set-text edition, Cape Town, South Africa).
Before her illness, she was working on a biography titled A Vision of Double Woman: Ella Cara Deloria and the Profession of Kinship. She graduated summa cum laude with a French major from Macalester College in Minnesota. She earned a master’s degree in comparative literature from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and at UW Madison and years later completed a doctoral degree in English at Rhodes University in South Africa, where she stayed on to teach at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg and then Rhodes University in Grahamstown. She spent several years at Marquette University in Wisconsin, where she worked with many international students, before joining the faculty at UNC Charlotte.
Among the courses that Gardner regularly taught at UNC Charlotte were Postcolonial Literature, World Literature for Teachers, Contemporary American Indian Literature and Film, and American Indians and Children’s Literature. During the 2006-07 academic year, she served as the resident advisor for UNC Charlotte students at Kingston University London. She published numerous scholarly articles, including several on the American Indian writer Ella Cara Deloria. Many of her publications focused on Native Americans, but she was also interested in Transnational Feminism, Postcolonial Literary Theory, and Life Narrative.
Gardner retired in 2012 from her full-time position, but she continued to teach as an adjunct faculty member in the American Studies Program and the English Department until 2016. During her career at UNC Charlotte, she helped diversify the English Department’s literature offerings and introduced several courses on American Indian literature and film and was also focused on diversifying American Studies’ mission and curriculum.