Helen Cafferty

Affiliation: German
William R. Kenan, Jr., Professor of German and the Humanities Emerita

Helen Cafferty has been in the vanguard of pedagogy since she first arrived on the Bowdoin campus. She was the first woman in the history of the College to rise through all levels of teaching, beginning as an instructor in 1972, advancing to assistant, associate and full professor. She assumed a chaired professorship, the William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of German and the Humanities, in 1990.

She has written widely on political drama and theater, East German literature and feminist approaches to the German literary tradition, and was longtime editor of the prestigious journal Women in German. Cafferty has shared her love of literature and culture throughout the state of Maine as a longtime member of the governing board of the Maine Humanities Council.

Cafferty has made many innovative contributions to Bowdoin's academic life. As assistant dean of faculty from 1987 to 1990 she made great strides in diversifying the Bowdoin faculty and played a leading role in initiating Women's Studies at the College. 

As a teacher, Cafferty has mentored many honors research projects and greatly increased the number of non-German speaking students taking courses in German literature and culture.

Among her awards and fellowships, Cafferty has received a Fulbright grant and several grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Helen Cafferty


  • B.A. Bowling Green State University, 1964
  • M.A. Syracuse University, 1966
  • Ph.D. The University of Michigan, 1976