In Memoriam

The English Department would like to honor the memory of colleagues we have lost, including: 

Daniel Matthew Clark
Josephine A. Roberts
Donald E. Stanford

 


 

Daniel Matthew Clark

October 22, 1966 - May 7, 1998


Matt Clark, a beloved teacher, coordinator of creative writing at Louisiana State University, and a fine short story writer at the very start of his career, died of colon cancer at the age of thirty-one in early May of 1998 in Baton Rouge. He was surrounded by his parents, his sisters and nephews, and friends from Baton Rouge and New Orleans.

Matt learned of his grave illness only a few months before -- in January, the day classes resumed at LSU after winter break. In the short period he had left, he entertained an endless stream of visitors with the help of his mother, Barbara, who moved in with him during his treatments. And he traveled -- to New York to see plays, to the desert with his parents, to his family home in Texas, and to New Orleans to visit the people and places he loved, for the last time.

Matt grew up in Decatur, Texas, graduated from Southern Methodist University, and came to LSU for graduate school. His stories were published in quarterlies around the country, including Alaska Quarterly Review and Gulf Coast. He was selected as a finalist, twice, in the William Faulkner Society Creative Writing Competition in New Orleans.

Fascinated by tall tales and urban legends, Matt was in the process of inventing a very new kind of Southwest magical realism, part Mark Twain, part Gabriel Garcia Marquez. His most successful story was "The West Texas Sprouting of Loman Happenstance," which was published in the popular anthology Texas Bound and performed on the audiotape that accompanied that volume. The story was optioned for film and is still in development. Also forthcoming is Matt's first novel, Hook Man Speak, to be published by Avon books.

Matt had a remarkable effect upon the students and other writers whose lives he touched. He single-handedly reorganized and directed the creative writing program at LSU for more than two years, encouraging students to keep at it, to take their work seriously, to bring it to the next level. We were all blessed by his vitality, his brio, his humor, his intensity, by his fascination with life, and by his art and his belief in art.


"...Oh, hell, Happenstance," I said, "Is it art? Is it not art? Who gives a damn? I didn't make the creatures, but I gave them the inspiration to paint. If I'm not the artist, then at least I'm the artist's patron. Fact is, it doesn't matter... We're both happier for knowing each other..."

-- Matt Clark, "The West Texas Sprouting of Loman Happenstance"


A scholarship program in Matt's memory has been created for graduate students at Louisiana State University's creative writing program by his parents Daniel and Barbara Clark.
 

Moira Crone, Judy Kahn, and Rodger Kamenetz

 

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Josephine A. Roberts

November 11, 1948 - August 26, 1996


Josephine Roberts was truly an extraordinary citizen of the University, a brilliant teacher and one who chaired, among other major committees, the Graduate Council, the Advisory Council for the Center for Faculty Development, and the Program Review Council. She was returning home from a meeting in the Office of Academic Affairs planning the program review process when she died in a tragic highway accident.

She was born and raised in Richmond, Virginia. After completing her doctorate at the University of Pennsylvania, she joined the English faculty at LSU as an assistant professor in 1975. In 1991, she was named the William A. Read Professor of English Literature. She published and lectured widely on Renaissance literature, with more and more emphasis on literature by women.

Her numerous fellowships and awards included -- perhaps most significantly -- a National Endowment for the Humanities Editions Grant from 1989-1991, supporting work on her painstakingly annotated edition of Part I of Lady Mary Wroth's mammoth prose romance, The First Part of the Countess of Montgomery's Urania(Medieval and Renaissance Texts Society, 1996). The $130,000 grant was the largest ever awarded to a member of LSU's Department of English. Since this was the first edition of this text since its original appearance in 1621, this is perhaps the publication for which Professor Roberts is best known. Among her other numerous publications are three books, Richard II: An Annotated Bibliography, The Poems of Lady Mary Wroth, and Architectonic Knowledge in the New Arcadia: Sir Philip Sidney's Use of the Heroic Journey. Selections from The Poems of Lady Mary Wroth were published in the Norton Anthology of English Literature.

The University and the academic world beyond knew Roberts as congenial, gracious, and honorable. Generous of spirit, she was remarkably helpful to students -- her own and others' -- whom she treated as prospective colleagues. She brought to teaching an exquisite gift, the ability to read her students with the same sympathetic perception that she brought to texts. Consequently, her students regularly produced outstanding work; two of her doctoral students (Mary Villeponteaux and Sigrid King) received the prestigious Distinguished Dissertation Award in the Humanities.

Beyond her brilliant academic career, Roberts was also a loving wife and mother. She and her husband, Jim Gaines, were equal partners, balancing the demands of their professional lives with domestic obligations, rituals, and pastimes. They shared a computer and even wrote several articles together. She was also devoted to her son, John, giving him the loving nurture that he needed and maintaining a strong family life while devoting herself to teaching, scholarship, and University service.

A number of commemorations have been undertaken to honor Roberts. In September 1996, the Josephine A. Roberts Memorial Fund was set up in the LSU Foundation. Part of the money was used to refurbish and dedicate the Josephine A. Roberts Seminar Room in Allen Hall in an effort to create a living legacy in her honor. The LSU Libraries' Special Collections is purchasing some rare editions of Renaissance texts, and each one will carry a nameplate with her name. A lecture series is being established to bring the University well-known scholars in her field.

The University's Distinguished Dissertation Award has been renamed the Josephine A. Roberts LSU Alumni Association Distinguished Dissertation Award in the Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences. And a festschrift in her honor contains essays by leading Renaissance scholars from across the country.

Roberts leaves her mother, Anastasia Roberts; her husband, James Gaines; their son, John; her sister, Kathleen Roberts; and us, her colleagues, students, and friends. The world of Renaissance studies has lost a pioneering scholar and a gentle, loving person. She leaves the world an emptier place, yet having been blessed by her gracious presence.


Becky Crump, Don Moore, Larry Sasek

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Donald E. Stanford

February 7, 1913 - August 25, 1998


The field of literary studies lost a great scholar, editor, teacher, and poet when Don Stanford died. He was educated at Stanford University (B.A. 1933, Ph.D. 1953) and Harvard University (M.A. 1934) and spent most of his academic career at Louisiana State University. Prior to his appointment at LSU he taught at Colorado A&M College, Dartmouth College, the University of Nebraska, and Duke University.

At LSU he amassed a distinguished record of scholarly publications, including his editions of the poems of Edward Taylor (1960), Robert Bridges (1974), S. Foster Damon (1974), and John Masefield (1984). He also edited the letters of Robert Bridges (1983-84) and John Masefield (1984). In addition to numerous articles, he published two major book-length critical studies, In the Classic Mode: The Achievement of Robert Bridges (1978), and Revolution and Convention in Modern Poetry: Studies in Ezra Pound, T. S. Eliot, Wallace Stevens, E. A. Robinson, and Yvor Winters (1983).

He taught graduate seminars in modern Anglo-American poetry, Yeats, Hawthorne and Melville, Henry James, the poetry of New England, and the American novel of manners. In 1979 Stanford was named Alumni Professor, and in 1982 he was designated Distinguished Research Master and was awarded the University Medal. His other awards included a Guggenheim fellowship and grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities. He was a member of Phi Beta Kappa and Phi Kappa Phi.

Although he spent much of his time editing the poetry of others, he was a gifted poet himself and published three volumes of poems: New England Earth and Other Poems (1941), The Traveler: Allegorical Lyrics (1955), and The Cartesian Lawnmower and Other Poems (1984). His poetry was praised by such critics as Yvor Winters for its sound feeling, lyrical sweetness, and formal craftsmanship. Throughout his canon Stanford shows his allegiance to his native New England, to traditional poetic forms, and to the Western intellectual past.

During his tenure at Louisiana State University, Stanford revived The Southern Review and, as its co-editor (along with Lewis Simpson) from 1963 until his retirement in 1983, in raising it to a new level of importance from 1963. Contributors to The Southern Review during those years include Howard Baker, Harold Bloom, Edgar Bowers, Cleanth Brooks, Donald Davie, James Dickey, Northrop Frye, Robert Heilman, David Lodge, Katherine Anne Porter, John Crowe Ransom, Eric Voegelin, Robert Penn Warren, Eudora Welty, and Yvor Winters.
 

As a teacher, Stanford was widely respected and popular, especially with the graduate students, many of whom he helped to get a start in the profession, including Everett Emerson, John Finlay, Julie L'Enfant, George Lensing, and David Middleton. Stanford was also instrumental in encouraging and assisting new colleagues in his own department to get a foothold in the profession, especially those fresh out of graduate school. Time and again he wrote letters of introduction and letters of support, helping research efforts proceed expeditiously. He was a mentor in the best sense of the word, offering unfailing support and encouragement that had a crucial impact on many of his colleagues as well as on his students.

In 1991 a festschrift was published in his honor (Order in Variety: Essays and Poems in Honor of Donald E. Stanford), in which twenty-seven distinguished scholars and poets from England and America contributed original, previously unpublished works to the volume -- a testimony to Stanford's stature. In the foreward to that volume, Jay Halio, Director of the University of Delaware Press, praised Stanford as a "rare individual" who brought poetry, wit, wisdom, and above all, warmth and friendship into the lives of all who knew him. A former graduate student of Stanford's, David Middleton (now a professor of English at Nicholls State University), concluded his contribution to the festschrift with this tribute:

It is difficult to sum up the life of a man such as Donald Stanford in a single sentence, but I must try. A New Englander, a Californian, a resident southerner, admirer of the best in the British tradition, both realist and optimist, and a gentleman refined -- Donald Stanford, in my view, has achieved, both in his life and his work, a restoration of the classic mind.

Stanford loved to travel. He and Maryanna, his wife of nearly forty years who died in 1992, travelled extensively in the Far East as well as throughout Europe. Their favorite and most frequent destination was London, where they enjoyed theatre, opera, and the symphony, and his membership in the Atheneum Club.


Stanford is survived by his son by a previous marriage, Don David, and daughter-in-law Judith; two grandsons, David and Aaron Stanford; a sister, Mary L. Stanford; a brother and sister-in-law, Dr. David E. and Linda Stanford; and several nieces, nephews, grandnieces, and grandnephews.


Becky Crump, Jim Babin, and Gresdna Doty

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Text reprinted with permission of the LSU Office of Academic Affairs