Susan Berry Brill de Ramírez

Caterpillar Professor of English & Coordinator of Graduate Studies

Bradley Hall 393
(309) 677-3888

Ph.D., Literary Criticism and Theory, U.S. multicultural literatures, and 17th century literature, University of New Mexico
M.B.A., Management, University of Wisconsin-Madison
M.A., English, University of Chicago
B.A., English, University of Wisconsin, Madison


Dr. Susan Berry Brill de Ramírez is Caterpillar Professor of English at Bradley University. The Caterpillar Professoriate is a funded endowment to “recognize and reward an exemplary level of scholarship and creative production among our senior faculty.” Professor Brill de Ramírez is a specialist in the fields of Native American literatures, environmental literatures, ecocomposition, folklore, and literary criticism and theory. Author of Wittgenstein and Critical Theory (1995), Contemporary American Indian Literatures and the Oral Tradition (1999), and Native American Life-History Narratives: Colonial and Postcolonial Navajo Ethnography (2007), and many scholarly essays, she has recently co-edited with Evelina Zuni Lucero Simon J. Ortiz: A Poetic Legacy of Indigenous Continuance (2009), is completing a monograph on Native American women’s ethnography, and working in the areas of ecocriticism, poetics and prosody. Pedagogically, Brill de Ramírez is committed to applied student learning, including faculty mentored student projects over the years that have led to student presentations, awards, and publications. She is currently developing her work in service-learning to explore humanities-based possibilities for service-learning in general education study.

Her upcoming Spring 2012 Sabbatical project, “The Grammar and Poetics of Literary Placefulness: Geographies of Belonging in American Literature (Indigenous and Diasporic)” is devoted to the completion of a new book that raises attention to the rhetoric of placefulness in literature, contributing to the scholarship in a variety of fields, including ecocriticism, place studies, poetics, feminist criticism, and Indigenous literatures:

“My literary interest in the study of place and placefulness lies in the constitutive craft of connection, in the poetics of place and relation, in the mechanics of literariness that facilitate reader connections to diverse worlds, times and places (e.g., Glissant, Blanchot, Bachelard). While scholars have addressed crucial aspects regarding the role of “place” in literature, there has been no sustained research that looks closely at the key elements and tools of literary language that bridge spatiality and temporality.”

Professional Experience

Selected Awards:

  • Writer of the Year, Academic Book Award for 2006-2007 for Native American Life-History Narratives Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers, 2008.
  • Southwest Books of the Year Notable Book Award. Tucson-Pima County Library System. 2008.
  • Who’s Who in American Education; Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers.
  • Parents’ Association Award of Excellence, 2003.
  • Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi, faculty inductee, 2003.
  • Samuel Rothberg Professional Excellence Award, Bradley University, 2001.
  • Who’s Who in the World; Who’s Who in America; Who’s Who of American Women.

Selected Grants:

  • Research Excellence Summer Stipend Award for “The Radical Syntax of Place in American Women Writers.” Bradley University, 2011.
  • Sabbatical Award for “The Grammar and Poetics of Literary Placefulness: Geographies of Belonging in the Work of Indigenous and Diasporic American Writers,” 2012.
  • Teaching Excellence Award for “Humanities Based Service-Learning” initiative, 2009.
  • Sabbatical Award for “Native American Life History Narratives” project, 2004.


Introduction to Literary Criticism; Literary Criticism and Theory; Introduction to Native American Literatures; Native American Literatures; Women Writers; Freshman Composition; freshman seminars in Ecocomposition and Environmental Literature; Argumentative Writing; Business Writing; Western Civilization; and topics courses in Silko and Ortiz, Folkore and Oral Storytelling, Emily Dickinson’s Radical Poetics. Committed to student mentoring, Professor Brill de Ramírez has worked closely with many literature students over the years in a variety of projects, papers, and presentations. Her incorporation of service-learning has led to thousands of hours of student service opportunities over the years and led to receipt of a service-learning grant from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to fund environmentally oriented service-learning in composition and literature classes.


Books and edited journal:

  • Simon J. Ortiz: A Poetic Legacy of Indigenous Continuance, eds. with Evelina Zuni Lucero. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2009.
  • Native American Life History Narratives: Colonial and Postcolonial Navajo Ethnography. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2007.
  • Contemporary American Indian Literatures and the Oral Tradition. Tucson: U. of Arizona Press, 1999.
  • Wittgenstein and Critical Theory: Moving Beyond Postmodern Criticism and Toward Descriptive Investigations. Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 1995. Rpt, 1996.
  • Studies in American Indian Literatures 16.4 (Fall 2004). University of Nebraska Press. Guest Editor.

Selected Articles and Book Chapters:

  • “The Rhetorics of Inclusion in the Work of Rachel Carson and Simon J. Ortiz: Effecting Broad-based Geographies of Belonging.” Essays on Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, ed. James Bernard Kelley. Rodopi Press, forthcoming.
  • “Relational Landscapes in the Work of Native American Poets: Simon J. Ortiz, Kimberly Blaeser, and Sherman Alexie.” Literary Ecology of Place, eds, Robert Friedman and Karen Waldron. Forthcoming.
  • “The Conversive Craft of Silko’s Gothic Almanac: Protective Minimalism in Hemispheric Webs of the Sacred and Demonic.” Leslie Silko’s Almanac of the Dead, ed. Rebecca Tillett. Invited essay. Forthcoming.
  • “The Distinctive Sonority of Sherman Alexie’s Indigenous Poetics.” Sherman Alexie: A Collection of Critical Perspectives, eds. Jan Roush and Jeff Berglund. University of Utah Press, 2011.
  • “A Geography of Belonging: Ortiz’s Poetic, Lived, and Storied Indigenous Ecology.” Simon J. Ortiz: A Poetic Legacy of Indigenous Continuance, eds. Brill de Ramírez and Lucero, 25-52.
  •  “Writing the Intertwined Global Histories of Indigeneity and Diasporization: An Ecocritical Articulation of Place, Relationality, and Storytelling in the Poetry of Simon J. Ortiz.” Stories Through Theory/Theory Through Stories: Native American Storytelling and Critique. Eds. G. Henry, S. Martinez-Falquina, and N. Soler. (Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 2009): 159-190.
  • “Before the South Became the South: Tribal Regionalism in Robert J. Conley’s Cherokee Historical Novels.” Mississippi Quarterly. 60.1 (Winter 2006-07): 179-207.
  • “Living beyond the Colonialist Legacy of the Klondike Gold Rush: The Storytelling Survivance of Native Women Elders in the Yukon.” Adventures of the Spirit: The Older Woman in the Works of Doris Lessing, Margaret Atwood, and Other Contemporary Women Writers. Ed. Phyllis Perrakis (Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 2007): 241-269.
  • “The Conversive Turn in Bahá’í Scripture: An Intersubjective Communications Model for Bridging Global Diversity.” Journal of Bahá’í Studies, 17.1/4 (2007): 27-67.
  • “The Power and Presence of Native Women’s Oral Storytelling Traditions in the Poetry of Marilou Awiakta, Kimberly Blaeser, and Marilyn Dumont.” Speak to Me Words: Essays on Contemporary Native American Poetry. Eds. Janice Gould and Dean Rader. Tucson: U of Arizona P, 2003. 82-102.
  • “Walking with the Land: Simon J. Ortiz, Robert J. Conley, and Velma Wallis.” South Dakota Review: Native American Writers. 38.1 (Spring 2000): 59-82.


Bradley University:

  • University Strategic Planning Committee, 2010-2011
  • University Curriculum and Regulations Committee, 2009-2011; 2000-2003; 1992-1997
  • Student Research/Creative Production Expo Committee, 2011
  • Research Excellence Committee, 2010-2011
  • Samuel Rothberg Professional Excellence Award Committee, chair 2002-2004; member 2001-2004, 2006-2007, 2009-2010
  • Caterpillar Professorship Committee, 2009-2010
  • Judge, Annual Student Research/Creative Production Exhibition, Student Expo, 2011, 2010, 1999
  • LAS College Curriculum Committee, chair, 2003-2004; member, 2001-2004
  • Instructor, Institute for Learning in Retirement, 2001, 2003
  • Faculty Advisor to SEAC (Student Environment Action Coalition), 1999-2007
  • Facilitator in bringing American Indian writers and artists to Bradley University, including Kevin Locke (Lakota flute player and hoop dancer), writers Luci Tapahonso (Navajo), Gloria Bird (Spokane), Elizabeth Woody (Navajo/Wasco Warm Springs), Marijo Moore (Cherokee),  Philip Red Eagle (Dakotah/Salish), and Simon J. Ortiz (Acoma Pueblo).
  • Various English departmental committees.

Other service:

  • Editorial Board Member and reviewer for various scholarly journals and university presses, including  PMLA: Publications of the Modern Language Association, Comparative Literature Studies, College Literature, Studies in American Indian Literature, Modern Fiction Studies, Journal of Communication and Religion, Mosaic, Journal of Bahá’í Studies, Philosophy and Literature, and various university presses for the review of potential book publications.
  • Volunteer consultant and advisor for BIHE University, serving disenfranchised students in Iran, 2005-present
  • Involved with a number of environmentally oriented organizations, the Bahá’í Faith, and various social service organizations.


Modern Language Association, Association for the Study of American Indian Literatures, Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment, Semiotic Society of America, Association for Bahá'í Studies, American Folklore Society