Susan Sontag

Sunday, March 19th 2023

Susan Sontag (1933-2004) was an American writer, essayist, philosopher, and political activist. She was born in New York City and grew up in Tucson, Arizona. Sontag attended the University of Chicago and received her B.A. in philosophy from Harvard University in 1951. She went on to earn a Master's degree in English literature from Harvard in 1954 and later pursued doctoral studies in philosophy, literature, and theology at Harvard and Oxford.

Sontag's writing career began in the early 1960s with her first collection of essays, "Against Interpretation," which established her as an intellectual voice on art, culture, and politics. She went on to publish several other influential works, including "On Photography" (1977), which explores the cultural and psychological implications of photography; "Illness as Metaphor" (1978), a critique of the cultural myths surrounding illness; and "Regarding the Pain of Others" (2003), a meditation on the moral and political implications of images of war and violence.

Sontag was a controversial figure in the intellectual and political world, known for her outspokenness on issues such as the Vietnam War, human rights, and the AIDS crisis. She was awarded numerous honors during her lifetime, including the National Book Critics Circle Award, the MacArthur Fellowship, and the Jerusalem Prize.

Sontag's most famous publications include:

  • "Against Interpretation" (1966): A collection of essays on art, literature, and culture, including her seminal essay "Notes on 'Camp'."

  • "On Photography" (1977): A critical exploration of the cultural, social, and psychological implications of photography, examining its role in shaping modern consciousness and its relationship to other forms of visual representation.

  • "Illness as Metaphor" (1978): A critique of the cultural myths surrounding illness, including tuberculosis and cancer, and their impact on the experience of illness and the response to disease.

  • "Regarding the Pain of Others" (2003): A meditation on the moral and political implications of images of war and violence, exploring the ways in which photography and other forms of visual representation shape our understanding of conflict and its consequences.