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Susan Sontag (1933 - 2004)

Susan Sontag was born in New York, NY. She grew up in Tucson, Arizona, and Los Angeles California, and entered at the age of fifteen (1948) the University of California at Berkeley. After a year she transferred to the University of Chicago, and graduated in 1951. Sontag married in her sophomore year the 28-year-old Philip Rieff, a sociology instructor; they divorced in the late 1950s. Sontag moved with Rieff to Boston and continued her studies at Harvard, where she was a Ph.D. candidate from 1955-1957.
In 1957-58 Sontag studied at the University of Paris. She worked as a lecturer in philosophy at the City College of New York and Sarah Lawrence. From 1960 to 1964 she was an instructor in the religion department of Columbia University, and then a writer-in-residence for one year at Rutgers. In the 1960s Sontag's connection with the "Partisan Review" brought her in close contact with the "NY intellectuals". She contributed to various other periodicals, including "New York Review of Books", "Atlantic Monthly", "Nation", and "Harper's".
Regarded as a brilliant and original thinker, Sontag exploded onto America's cultural and literary scene in the when she published Against Interpretations, a collection of provocative and defiant essays critiquing American life and literature, in which she popularized the word camp, referring to exaggerated reproductions of the style and emotions of pop culture. Her other works include short stories, and novels such as The Benefactor (1963), Death Kit (1967), and the bestselling The Volcano Lover (1992). Her essays on radical politics are collected in Styles of Radical Will (1969). She has meditated on the nature of photography in On Photography (1977) and has explored the ways in which disease is demonized in Illness as Metaphor (1978) and AIDS and Its Metaphors (1989). She has also written and directed motion pictures, including Duet for Cannibals (1969) and Promised Lands (1974), and she has written a play, Alice in Bed (1993).

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