Jane Marcus, distinguished professor emerita at CUNY and author of so much ground-breaking scholarship on Virginia Woolf, Rebecca West, feminism, modernism and other topics, died May 28 at the age of 76. The news was announced by her son Ben. Since then, tributes to her have come in via the VWoolf Listserv, Facebook and Twitter.
From Jean Mills:
She was a giant upon whose shoulders we all stand. Jane Marcus asked the important questions. Go back. Re-read her. All of it. There are gems to be mined there that will guide you, test you, frustrate you, but demand that you rethink possible. Her work will remain generative, bold, and meaningful to our own questions and research as we stay up late reading and writing forgetful of the tea kettle on the stove …but somehow certain that we’re on to something, something that matters.
From Christine Froula:
What very sad news. Jane’s pioneering scholarship and devoted teaching as well as her kindness and generosity have encouraged and inspired countless scholars of Woolf, Elizabeth Robins, feminism, modernism, and much more, and the enduring legacy of her own work will keep her spirit alive. We will miss you, Jane.
From Lauren Elkin:
It’s such a loss I don’t even know what to say, apart from simply that she was my mentor, and she taught me how to read, and how to be fierce. I hope I can live up to that legacy with my own students.
From Jan McVicker:
This is very sad news. Jane Marcus was a passionate thinker and her generosity was legend. I imagine there will be a tribute to her memory and legacy at the upcoming conference? I would be willing to help. Condolences to those who knew her well and to her family.
From Elisa Kay Sparks:
In her 1982 ground-breaking critique of traditional approaches to Virginia Woolf, “Storming the Toolshed,” Jane Marcus wrote: “It is an open secret that Virginia Woolf’s literary estate is hostile to feminist critics. There are two taboo subjects: on one hand her lesbian identity, woman-centered life, and feminist work, and on the other, her socialist politics. If you wish to discover the truth regarding these issues, you will have a long, hard struggle. In that struggle you will find the sisterhood of feminist Woolf scholarship” (Signs 13.1, p. 628). The degree to which those two subjects now provide the cornerstones of international Virginia Woolf studies is largely due to Jane Marcus’s long, hard years of struggle to document the full political and social context of Woolf’s writing. We are all forever in her debt.
From Bonnie Scott:
Jane was so many things to so many people, and to the authors she helped us see anew. Her passion for following new lines of investigation was infectious, and she supported what she inspired?something I came to greatly appreciated when studying Rebecca West. I feel both bereft and blessed this morning. Much love to the family she was so justly proud of.
From Diana Swanson:
She was and is an inspiration and one of the founding mothers of feminist scholarship and Woolf scholarship. Her contributions are incalculable.
From Allison Lin:
We will miss you, Jane… a wonderful Woolf scholar.
From Angeliki Spiropoulou:
Very sad news indeed. Her work is foundational.
From an unidentified member of the list:
This is terrible news — my very, very best to those who knew her well. Her work has been magnificent; and the generosity and real, insightful interest with which she engaged inexperienced young scholars, and normalized that interest, was wonderful. And she coined “the Virginia Woolf Soap Operas”! She will be missed so much.
I cut my teeth on Jane’s work when I was a fledgling graduate student working on my master’s in liberal studies with a focus on Woolf. I particularly appreciated her work on Woolf and anger, since that is a topic that continues to resonate. Though I never met her in person, I will miss her as well.
Jane Marcus has died. Her work on Virginia Woolf, Rebecca West, Modernism and feminism will always shape my own. pic.twitter.com/r7hMEbGHiG
— Anne Margaret Daniel (@venetianblonde) May 29, 2015
Jane Marcus, you were a Force and a dear friend. “to look life in the face, and to know it for what it is…and then, to put it away” – VW
— Anne-Marie Lindsey (@DoNotFaint) May 29, 2015
I only took 1 class w Jane Marcus but forever in her debt. a deeply committed champion of the radical, obscure, the unseen. what a loss. RIP
— corinacopp (@ocorina) May 29, 2015
Pioneering feminist critic Jane Marcus has died. She taught a generation of us how to decode patriarchy back in the 80s. Rest in Power, Jane
— Madwoman w/ Laptop (@ProfM_Lindemann) May 29, 2015
울프 리스트서브에서 온 이메일들에 따르면 Shari Benstock과 Jane Marcus가 타계했다고 한다. 어제 아니면 그저께겠지. 둘 다 책들을 갖고 있다. 벤스톡의 Women of the Left Bank는 아무 임팩트도 남기지 않긴 했지만
— molly (@detajeunesse) May 29, 2015
Added June 10, 2015:
- New York Times Obituary, published June 5-6, 2015
The Indypendent blog post, “Remembering Jane Marcus: CUNY Prof Was A Tenaciously Brilliant Scholar, Activist,” published June 9, 2015