Helen Fishman graduated with a BA in French Literature from Hunter College in 2016. As part of her degree program, she studied abroad at Paris 4 (La Sorbonne) and Paris 8 (St. Denis). In 2022, she received an MA in French Studies from NYU. She wrote her thesis on the lives of three trans feminine individuals from the eighteenth century in France. She connected their experiences to societal shifts taking place during the French Revolution. A crucial element of her work was the incorporation of her own lived experience and creative voice. She is a writer and published translator.
As concerns her research, she is interested in the use of memory and personal voice across the humanities and social sciences, especially when what is at stake is the history of a person or group for whom traditional archival resources may be lacking. Some questions guiding her research include: How does an engagement with memory as source help define or blur the line between fiction and non-fiction? In what ways is a memory made collective? In what ways, if any, can a memory be raised to the status of objective fact? Does the use of personal experience in research necessarily shift the categorization of that research? Is the personal voice ever really absent?
One goal of her research is to investigate how attachments to oppositions like history and literature, fiction and nonfiction, particularity and universality, subjectivity and objectivity, connect to or uphold not only divisions among the disciplines but foundational binaries in the larger world, such as: the feminine and masculine, nature and human, cis and trans. Though focused on works of auto-fiction and auto-history from the 20th and 21st centuries, her historical interests compel her to research trends and developments in writing methods across centuries. She aims to connect her literary and historical research to earlier shifts in political and societal organization. Throughout all of her work, she seeks to engage with and add to a feminism that envisions the liberation of women and queer people as inherently connected.