Deborah Martinson

Director of Writing Programs and Professor, Writing & Rhetoric

Dr. Martinson is the 2009 Recipient of the Tod and Linda White Teaching Prize at Occidental College.


  • Office: Center for Academic Excellence, Library, Room 22
  • Email: dmartin@oxy.edu
  • Phone: (323) 259-2801

Education: B.A., Cal State Chico; M.A., Cal State Northridge; Ph.D., USC

Professor of English Writing at Occidental College, Martinson teaches creative nonfiction in all her writing classes at Occidental and as summer faculty fellow at the Norman Mailer Writers Colony in Provincetown, Massachusetts. Martinson researches and teaches writing –its communicative and transformative power. Her scholarship focuses on auto/biography and fiction within particular historical and political contexts. Martinson writes books about the lives of complicated women—creative, sexual and political. Martinson is just finishing her third book, Virginia Durr: Southern Radical Come Hell or High Water.





The English Writing Department members teach their specialty through many of the department offerings. 

Currently Teaching:
Fall: ENWR 401  Writing Identity
Spring: ENWR 301 Creative Nonfiction




Book in Progress:

Virginia Durr: Southern Radical Come Hell or High Water 

Books Published:

Lillian Hellman: A Life with Foxes and Scoundrels; NY:  Counterpoint Press November, 2005.; Paperback: Berkeley: Counterpoint Press, 2011.

In The Presence of Audience: the Self  in Diaries and  Fictions.  Columbus: Ohio State UP: 2003.   Book features writers Virginia Woolf, Katherine Mansfield, Violet Hunt, and Doris Lessing.




Lillian Hellman:   A Biography. Chief Researcher,   PBS, Phillip Schopper,  director and producer,  Castle Productions. June 30, 1999.           


NPR Martinson Interview by Susan Stamberg re: Lillian Hellman and Peter Feibleman.  “Cakewalk”.  Broadcast Saturday, June 12th , 2010 at 10PM on KPCC, 89.3 FM.

OPB Golden Hours, Martinson Interview by  Maggi White. “Profile and Conversations.” Re: Lillian Hellman, Broadcast, Portland, Oregon, June 2006.


Invited Papers/Lectures/Interviews

“Lillian Hellman” Interview with Deborah Martinson by Laura Lee. The Nervous Breakdown magazine (online culture and literary magazine) pending: July 2011.

“The Little Foxes.” Talk Back. Egyptian Theatre.  American Cinematheque, June 19, 2009.

“Lillian Hellman’s South,” Hellman/Wyler Festival,  March 3, 2007.

“Lillian Hellman’s Toys in the Attic,” Pearl Theatre, New York City, January 30, 2007.

Lillian Hellman: A Life.” Louisiana Book Festival,  Oct 18, 2006.

Lillian Hellman:” Biography on Their Own Terms,”  Los Angeles Book  Festival,  April 29, 2006.

ABaring, Cloaking, Accessorizing: AWriting Autobiography and Fiction.@  Keynote Speaker, Boise State University Faculty, February 2005.


Articles in Journals

"It takes a Thief to know a Thief:"  The Biographies of Norman Mailer," Norman Mailer  Review, III, Fall, 2009.

“Lillian Hellman and Norman Mailer”: “Half Friendly; Half Chilled.” Lillian Hellman   Newsletter, II, Bollingreen, Western Kentucky University, Fall, 2009.

Another Part of the Forest: Our World of ‘Cheats and Knaves and Evildoers.’” Lillian Hellman Newsletter..  Bollingreen, Western Kentucky University, Fall, 2007.

"The Autumn Garden by Lillian Hellman,”  On Stage, Washington, D.C. The American Century Theatre, March/April 2006.

“Williams and His Contemporaries: Lillian Hellman”     Tennessee Williams Annual  Review:  Spring, 2006


Articles in Books and Encyclopedias

“Lillian Hellman.” Encyclopedia of Women in  World History.” Oxford UP,  2007. 

“Tennessee Williams and Lillian Hellman” , Tennessee Williams Scholarship,  Cambridge Scholars’ Press, 2006.     

ALangston Hughes’s Theater.” Dictionary Literary Biography,   New York: Broccali, Layman and Clark, Spring 1999.


Professional Affiliations and Activities

Faculty Fellow: “Biography”,  Norman Mailer Writers Colony: Summer, 2009-2011

Host: Small Liberal Arts College Conference, Occidental College, January 9-11, 2010.

Site Committee: Conference of Biographers International Organization, 2012.

Executive Board: Small Liberal Arts College Consortium, 2007-2012.

Board of Directors, Norman Mailer Society: elected October, 2006- pres.   

Conference Program Chair:  Norman Mailer Society Conference.  Library of Congress.  Washington D.C., 2009.

Conference Co-Chair Norman Mailer Society,  2010, University of South Florida, Tampa.

Conference Co-Chair Norman Mailer Society, 2011, Harry Ransom Center, Austin, Texas.

Editorial Advisory Board:  Norman Mailer Review, 2007-8