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Sandra Spanier is Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of English and General Editor of the Hemingway Letters Project. This long-term effort will result in the publication of a comprehensive scholarly edition of the writer's some 6,000 letters in a projected seventeen volumes by Cambridge University Press. Headquartered at Penn State and involving an international team of scholars, the Project has been supported in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities. Five volumes of The Letters of Ernest Hemingway have been published to date: Volume 1 (1907-1922) in 2011, Volume 2 (1923-1925) in 2013, Volume 3 (1926-1929) in 2015, Volume 4 (1929-1931) in 2017, and Volume 5 (1932-1934) in June 2020.
Spanier teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in American literature, with a particular interest in modernism and expatriate writers between the World Wars. Her essays on Hemingway have appeared in Modern Critical Interpretations: A Farewell to Arms (1987), New Essays on A Farewell to Arms (1990), and Hemingway and Women: Female Critics and the Female Voice (2002). She has served on the Editorial Board of The Hemingway Review since 1992 and as a consultant to several documentary films about Hemingway, including the PBS American Masters Series. She has been active in international collaborative efforts to conserve Hemingway's papers in Cuba and restore his long-time home outside Havana and is on the Board of the Finca Vigía Foundation, which works to preserve Hemingway's legacy in Cuba.
Her book Kay Boyle: Artist and Activist (1986) was the first to be published about that distinguished and prolific American writer (1902-1992). She has edited and introduced Life Being the Best and Other Stories by Kay Boyle (1988) and Process: A Novel by Kay Boyle (2001) - Boyle's long-lost first novel, the manuscript missing since the 1920s until Spanier discovered it in an archive. Her authorized edition of Boyle's letters, Kay Boyle: A Twentieth-Century Life in Letters, Selected Letters 1919-1992, was published by the University of Illinois Press in 2015. It received honorable mention for the MLA Morton N. Cohen Award for a Distinguished Edition of Letters.
She is also interested in the work of journalist and fiction writer Martha Gellhorn (1908-1998), who did not wish to be remembered for her marriage to Hemingway in the 1940s. Spanier worked with Gellhorn to bring into print her previously unpublished 1946 play, co-authored with fellow war correspondent Virginia Cowles, Love Goes to Press: A Comedy in Three Acts (1995; revised edn. 2010). The play, a comic battle of the sexes set during World War II, features two women war correspondents and the ex-husband of one, whom she divorced on the grounds of plagiarism. The play, a hit in London in 1946 and a flop on Broadway in 1947, was produced to critical acclaim in 2012 by the Mint Theater in New York.
Spanier is the co-editor (with David Morrell) of American Fiction, American Myth (2000)--a collection of essays by Penn State Evan Pugh Professor Philip Young, one of the earliest and most influential Hemingway scholars and her doctoral mentor.
Spanier held faculty appointments at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, Oregon State University, and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, before returning to the Penn State Department of English in 1995.