Annette Kolodny (1941-2019)

Annette Kolodny (1941-2019)

Testimonials and Remembrances

Messages from the SEA community upon hearing the sad news on the SEA listserv from Professor Sayre that Professor Annette Kolodny had passed away on September 11, 2019.

Prof. Annette Kolodny, an important founder of feminist scholarship in American Literature, of eco-feminism, and an influential voice in higher ed. Administration, passed away last week in Tucson. She was a longstanding SEA member and a recipient of a lifetime achievement award from the MLA section on American Literature to 1800.

An obituary was published in the Arizona Daily Star over the weekend. (Please see below)

We all remember Annette’s bold and innovative scholarship and her presentations at MLA, the SEA, and other conferences.

Gordon Sayre
Professor of English and Folklore
Director of Undergraduate Studies, English

By Sharon M. Harris

I am deeply saddened by the passing of Prof. Annette Kolodny. A trailblazing scholar and activist, she shaped American studies for decades. Personally, she was a generous scholar who offered myself and many others encouragement and a hands-up many times. I am indebted to her in more ways than I can express.


Sharon M. Harris
Professor Emerita
Dept. of English
University of Connecticut


By Fritz Fleischmann

Gordon, thanks for letting us all know. What a loss. Annette was that rare thing: a principled idealist and yet an open-eyed realist, when it came to our discipline and to the ways of the academy. She was a determined arguer, but also an open-minded listener. Unfailingly kind and generous, she will be remembered and missed by all who knew her.

Fritz Fleischmann
Babson College


By Drew Lopenzina

So sorry to hear of this. Annette was one of the first “major” scholars to reach out to me and encourage me in my work. I will always appreciate that gesture, as well as the overall body of work that did so much to change the landscape of Early American studies. My heart goes out to her family and friends.

Drew Lopenzina
Assoc. Professor of American Literature
Old Dominion University


By Carla J. Mulford

Dear colleagues:

It was with great sadness I learned of Annette Kolodny’s passing a few days ago.

Annette Kolodny was one of the shining lights to those of us who followed in her footsteps. Many of us who experienced classes taught only by men professors found significant inspiration in watching Annette navigate her career. She gave us hope, showed us strength amid adversity.

Annette was outspoken, big-hearted, insightful, incisive. My former colleague, Bruce Weigl, once told me that when he studied in her class at the University of New Hampshire, Annette refused to call on the male students in the class. She would only call on the female students. She told the students that it was an opportunity for the male students to understand the scholastic experience of female students, to see what it felt like to be silenced, as if their ideas didn’t count. Bruce told me that he learned so much from this small classroom experiment she conducted.

Annette’s earliest scholarship informed many of us new to the field of early American studies that there would be a space for alternative points of view, alternative scholarship that could critique standard narratives of conquest. Her work informed the project that, under Paul Lauter’s direction, became The Heath Anthology of American Literature. She was among the founders of that project, as I understood it when I served as the colonial editor for the first three editions of that anthology.

Those newer to the profession have no idea how difficult it was for women to enter the profession during the 1970s and 1980s. We had few women to look up to. Annette’s presence on the professional scene helped many of us realize we needed to find our voices and make sure we would be heard.

I think Annette Kolodny will always be with those of us who knew her, especially in those earlier times, when finding a place at the table was not easy. She did her part to make it easier for those who came after. What a rich legacy that is.

All good wishes,

Carla J. Mulford
Professor of English
Co-Director, English Honors Program
Co-Director, PSU Committee for Early Modern Studies
Founding President, Society of Early Americanists


By Laura Laffrado

Thanks so much to Carla for the moving and detailed way that her email honors and summarizes the rich career of and the important example provided by the great Annette Kolodny. She was indeed a feminist scholarly model who influenced so many of us.


Laura Laffrado
Professor, Department of English
Western Washington University



Annette Kolodny Obituary – Tucson, AZ | Arizona Daily Star

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