Marilyn Yalom, 1932-2019

Tributes paid to a pioneering feminist scholar who ‘made conversation glitter’

一月 2, 2020
Marilyn Yalom

An acclaimed writer whose interests ranged from chess and the French Revolution to the history of the breast has died.

Marilyn Yalom was born in Chicago in 1932 but spent much of her early life in Washington DC. As well as a diploma in contemporary literature from the University of Paris (1953), she gained a BA in French at Wellesley College (1954) and went on to a master’s in French and German at Harvard University (1956). She taught at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa (1961-62) and received a PhD in comparative literature from Johns Hopkins University (1963) for a dissertation on the “myth of the trial” in the writings of Albert Camus and Franz Kafka. She then joined California State University, Hayward (1963-76, now California State University, East Bay), rising to the position of professor of modern languages.

For the rest of her career, however, Professor Yalom was based at Stanford University. A lecturer on the modern thought and literature programme, she also served as the first research scholar and chief administrative officer, then director (1984-85) and finally senior scholar at what is now the Michelle Clayman Institute for Gender Research. She helped to set up a task force on the study of women, which in 1981 led to the creation of a pioneering feminist studies programme. “In the beginning,” she once wrote, “what we did was send a note around to each department asking, ‘Do you have any courses on women, and can we list them?’ The first time I put them together, it was just the front and back of a page. Five years later, the time was ripe.”

A bold and wide-ranging writer, Professor Yalom was the author of many books, including A History of the Breast (1997), A History of the Wife (2001), Inside the American Couple (2002), Birth of the Chess Queen (2004), How the French Invented Love (2012) and The Amorous Heart (2018). In 1992, she was decorated by the French government “for services rendered to French culture”.

Marie-Pierre Ulloa, a lecturer in French and comparative literature at Stanford, recalled Professor Yalom’s “luminous whimsy and her mischievous sense of humour and how she made conversation glitter”. Professor Yalom’s writings, she said, were notable for “always developing bold and incisive perspectives on the occupations and representations of women in history, challenging our self-conceptions and managing to appeal to both an academic and a non-specialist audience”.

Professor Yalom died of multiple myeloma on 20 November and is survived by her husband Irvin Yalom – emeritus professor of psychiatry at Stanford – three sons, a daughter and eight grandchildren.



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玛丽·彼尔德(Mary Beard)最近承认自己是每周工作100小时“狂人”的推文引发热议。但学者们如此拼命工作合理吗?谁有权决定?这些学术狂人应当对此保持沉默吗?让我们听听这些学者怎么说

2月 20日