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1933 Birth Susan Rosenblatt is born in Manhattan on January 16, 1933 to Jack and Mildred Rosenblatt.
1938 Father dies
Father Jack Rosenblatt dies of tuberculosis in China.
1945 Mother remarries Mother Mildred Rosenblatt marries Army Air Corps Captain Nathan Sontag. Susan and her sister Judith assume their stepfather’s last name.
1946 Family moves
Sontag family moves to Canoga Park, California. Susan enrolls at North Hollywood High.
1949 Graduates high school
Graduates from North Hollywood High. Attends UC Berkeley for one semester before transferring to University of Chicago.
1950 Marries Marries sociologist Philip Rieff in Chicago. They were engaged ten days after they met.
1951 Receives B.A.
Graduates from University of Chicago with a Bachelor of Arts. The two move to Boston where Rieff accepts an assistant professorship at Brandeis University.
1952 Birth of son
Susan gives birth to son David Rieff on September 28, 1952 in Boston.
1957 Europe Receives M.A. in Philosophy from Harvard University. Studies at Oxford on a fellowship from the American Association of University Women. Moves to Paris.
1959 New York
Divorces Philip Rieff and gains custody of their son David. Moves to New York City in January 1959. Begins teaching at University of Connecticut, Sarah Lawrence College and the Department of Religion at Columbia University.
1963 The Benefactor Sontag’s first novel, The Benefactor, is published by Farrar, Strauss.
1964 Seminal essays
Sontag publishes the essays “Notes on 'Camp,'” and “Against Interpretation.” Both essays are met with wide acclaim, shaking up the literary establishment and propelling Sontag to instant intellectual celebrity.
1966 Receives Guggenheim
Receives Guggenheim Fellowship.
1967 Death Kit Her second novel, Death Kit, is published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (FSG).
1968 Visits North Vietnam
Visits North Vietnam with journalist Andrew Kopkind and activist Robert Greenblatt, prompting the FBI to follow her.
1968 Trip to Hanoi
Sontag emerges as a political activist with her publication of the incendiary Trip to Hanoi, in which she rebukes the United States as a superpower, while also describing her alienation in the rigid, unfamiliar culture of Communist Vietnam.
1969 Styles of Radical Will Sontag"s second collection of essays, Styles of Radical Will, is published by FSG. It includes “The Aesthetics of Silence” and “The Pornographic Imagination.”
1969 Duet for Cannibals
Sontag makes her first foray into feature film, directing Duet for Cannibals, an avant-garde story about a sadistic political figure, his wife and their relationships with a younger couple. The film premieres at Cannes; the screenplay is published the following year.
1971 Brother Carl Brother Carl, directed by Sontag at the Swedish Film Institute, premieres at Cannes. The film explores the relationship between two women, ex-husband of one of the women and the title character, a mentally-disturbed man. The screenplay is published in 1974.
1972-73 Feminist essays
Publishes feminist essays “The Double Standard of Aging,” and “The Third World of Women,” in which she calls for women to “convert in sizeable numbers to militant lesbianism…establish make-up withdrawal centers, adopt their mothers’ family names…”
1973 Trips to China & Israel Visits China. Shoots the documentary Promised Lands in Israel, at the very end of the Yom Kippur War.
1974 Promised Lands
Sontag’s documentary Promised Lands premieres in New York. Sontag’s only documentary, the film is a study of Jewish consciousness, the Arab-Israeli conflict, and the aftermath of war.
1975 Cancer Diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer, Sontag undergoes surgery and chemotherapy. She finds an experimental protocol in France that saves her life, beating the odds and the predictions of her own doctors. Motivated by her own experience, she begins work on Illness as Metaphor.
1977 On Photography On Photography, a collection of essays written prior to Sontag’s cancer, is published by FSG. Considered Sontag’s finest work, the book is one of the first critical and philosophical explorations of the importance of the image in American and European culture. The book receives the National Book Critics Circle Award in 1978.
1978 Illness as Metaphor Illness as Metaphor is published by FSG. The book challenges as fallacy the notion that negative emotional states lead to cancer, and argues that illness should be considered without the use of metaphor.
1978 I, etcetera Sontag’s first book of short stories I, Etcetera, is published by FSG.
1979 As You Desire Me
Directs Pirandello’s play As You Desire Me in Turin.
1979 American Academy
Elected to American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters.
1980 Under the Sign of Saturn
Sontag’s third collection of essays, Under the Sign of Saturn, is published by FSG.
1982 A Susan Sontag Reader A Susan Sontag Reader, with an introduction by Elizabeth Hardwick, is published by FSG bringing together a wide range of Sontag’s writings for the first time.
1982 Town Hall speech
Delivers the speech, “Poland and Other Questions: Communism and the Left,” at Town Hall in New York City. Sontag declares that Communism is “fascism with a human face,” reversing her previous pro-Communist position.
1983 Films Unguided Tour, directed by Sontag and based on her short story, is completed and broadcast, starring Lucinda Childs. Sontag also makes a cameo appearance in Woody Allen’s mock documentary Zelig.
1984 Mauvaise Conduite
Appears in the documentary Mauvaise Conduite (Improper Conduct) directed by Néstor Almendros and Orlando Jiménez Leal. The film examines Cuba"s homophobic ”moral purges” for those suspected of “improper conduct.”
1985 Jacques and His Master Makes her debut in the American theatre, directing Milan Kundera’s play Jacques and His Master, an homage to the Diderot novel, at Harvard’s American Repertory Theater.
1986-87 The New Yorker
“The Way We Live Now,” a provocative short story about AIDS, and “Pilgrimage,” a reminiscence about her high school years in Los Angeles and a visit she paid to the expatriate writer Thomas Mann, are published in The New Yorker.
1987 President of PEN Becomes president of the PEN American Center.
1988 Seoul
Leads the PEN American Center delegation to Seoul, South Korea, in protest of the persecution of Korean authors.
1989 Testifies
In response to the fatwa against Salman Rushdie by the Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran, Sontag hosts protest meetings and testifies on Rushdie’s behalf before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
1989 AIDS and Its Metaphors AIDS and Its Metaphors is published by FSG. The book continues the arguments laid out in Illness as Metaphor, arguing that people living with AIDS should not be stigmatized or ostracized.
1990 Fellowship Receives Macarthur Foundation Fellowship.
1991 The Way We Live Now
A limited edition of the story The Way We Live Now, illustrated by British painter Howard Hodgkin, is published by Jonathan Cape in London.
1991 Alice in Bed
Sontag’s play, Alice in Bed premieres in Bonn, Germany. The play is later published by FSG in 1993.
1992 The Volcano Lover: A Romance
Sontag’s historical novel, The Volcano Lover: A Romance, is published by FSG.
1993 Directs Waiting For Godot Sontag visits Bosnia during the siege of Sarajevo, to bear witness to the atrocities taking place there. As an act of solidarity, Sontag directs Samuel Beckett’s play Waiting For Godot.
1994 Award
Receives the Montblanc de la Culture award for her work in Sarajevo.
1998 Cancer returns Sontag is treated for uterine cancer.
1999 French Honor
Sontag is named a Commandeur de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French government.
2000 National Book Award Receives the National Book Award for In America, Sontag’s fourth and final novel, published in 1999 by FGS. Sontag is accused of lifting parts of In America from other books.
2001 Where the Stress Falls
Where the Stress Falls, Sontag’s final collection of essays, is published by FSG.
2001 9/11 In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, Sontag publishes a short piece in The New Yorker, asserting that American foreign policy contributed to the underlying causes of the attacks. The article unleashes a firestorm of criticism and anger.
2001 Jerusalem Prize
Receives the Jerusalem Prize for Literature from the Israeli government. In her acceptance speech, she criticizes Israeli policies, particularly the “disproportionate use of fire power” against the Palestinians.
2003 European Prizes Receives the Prince of Asturias Award for Literature (Spain) and the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade.
2003 Regarding the Pain of Others
Regarding the Pain of Others is published by FSG. The book continues Sontag’s earlier work on photography, exploring how photographs of war and atrocity can spur us to act or inure us from emotional responses to tragedy.
2004 Regarding the Torture of Others
“Regarding the Torture of Others,” an essay on the Abu Ghraib photographs and the torture scandal they precipitated, is published in The New York Times Magazine.
2004 Death Diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome, a virulent blood cancer, Sontag opts to undergo a risky bone marrow transplant at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle. On December 28, Susan Sontag dies of acute myelogenous leukemia in New York City.
2007 At the Same Time At the Same Time: Essays & Speeches, published posthumously by FSG.
2008 Early journals published
FSG publishes Sontag’s journals in the first of three anticipated volumes: Reborn: Journals and Notebooks, 1947-1963, edited by David Rieff.
2012 Second volume published As Consciousness Is Harnessed to Flesh: Journals and Notebooks, 1964-1980, edited by David Rieff, is published by FSG.
2014
Regarding Susan Sontag documentary
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