Daphne Patai has a PhD in contemporary Brazilian literature and has been teaching at UMass Amherst for more than thirty years. With a background in Comparative Literature, Patai also lectures and write about utopian studies, oral history, translation studies, contemporary feminism, and literary theory. She is the author and editor of about fifteen books in a variety of fields. Her books have been reviewed not only in scholarly journals in the US and abroad, but also in such publications as The New York Times, The TLS, The Wall Street Journal, and numerous other newspapers.
After spending ten years with a joint appointment in women's studies, Patai became highly critical of what she saw as the imposition of a political agenda on educational programs, which she believes not only debases but also threatens the integrity of education. Much of her recent research deals with these problems in higher education as well as with the decline of free speech in academe. She serves on the Board of Directors of The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE; at thefire.org), a non-profit organization devoted to protecting First Amendment rights on college campuses. She has also written about the negative impact of critical theory on the study of literature. Together with Will H. Corral she edited Theory's Empire: An Anthology of Dissent (Columbia University Press, 2005), a collection of essays by fifty scholars taking issue with Theory orthodoxies of the past few decades.
Many of her opinion pieces have appeared in the Chronicle of Higher Education and in the online magazine Minding the Campus. In 2008 Patai published What Price Utopia? Essays on Ideological Policing, Feminism, and Academic Affairs (Rowman and Littlefield) -- which brings together her writing on the culture wars of the past few decades and also includes several new pieces. In 2010, a selection of her essays titled História Oral, Feminismo e Política was published in Brazil (São Paulo: Letra e Voz).
For more than twenty years, Patai has been a contributing editor to the Handbook of Latin American Studies (co-published by the Library of Congress and the University of Texas Press). Her particular charge has been to review, every two years, all new translations into English from Brazilian literature and to provide an overview essay of developments in the area of translation of Brazilian works.
Together with a Brazilian colleague, R. S. Correa, she is currently at work on a follow-up volume to her 1988 book Brazilian Women Speak: Contemporary Life Stories, which involves re-interviewing some of the women she first interviewed in the early and mid-1980s.
Patai has lectured extensively throughout the United States and abroad. She is the recipient of grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Humanities Center, and in 2011 was awarded a Samuel F. Conti fellowship from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
In 2014-2015 Patai is offering courses on Dystopian Futures in Film and Fiction; Colonial Brazilian Literature; Brazil in Film and Fiction (Spring 2015); and (Fall 2015) a seminar on Machado de Assis.
- Myth and Ideology in Contemporary Brazilian Literature (Associated University Presses, 1983)
- The Orwell Mystique: A Study in Male Ideology (University of Massachusetts Press, 1984)
- Brazilian Women Speak: Contemporary Life Stories (Rutgers University Press, 1988; 1993)
- Women's Words: The Feminist Practice of Oral History (co-edited with Sherna Berger Gluck; Routledge, 1991)
- Rediscovering Forgotten Radicals: British Women Writers 1889-1939 (co-edited with Angela Ingram; University of North Carolina Press, 1993)
- Professing Feminism: Cautionary Tales from the Strange World of Women's Studies (written with Noretta Koertge; Basic Books, 1994)
- Professing Feminism: Education and Indoctrination in Women's Studies (with N. Koertge; new and expanded edition; Lexington Books, 2003)
- Heterophobia: Sexual Harassment and the Future of Feminism (Rowman & Littlefield, 1998)
- Theory's Empire: An Anthology of Dissent (co-edited with Will H. Corral; Columbia University Press, 2005)
- What Price Utopia? Essays on Ideological Policing, Feminism, and Academic Affairs (Rowman and Littlefield, 2008)
- História Oral, Feminismo e Política (São Paulo: Letra e Voz, 2010).