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  • Tribute to Ellen Cronan Rose

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This journal lost its executive editor, Dr. Ellen Cronan Rose, to cancer on Monday, October 10, 2011. A co-editor of JML since 2002, her achievements include professorships at Dartmouth and Haverford Colleges, MIT, University of Nevada–Las Vegas and Drexel University; a Fulbright Fellowship to Cambridge University; books, papers and articles on Margaret Drabble, Doris Lessing and feminist literature — several with longtime friend and collaborator Carey Kaplan; National Women’s Studies Association Conference Committee Chair; President of the Women’s Caucus for the Modern Languages; Modern Language Association Delegate Assembly, reporting on Women in the Profession; and President of the Doris Lessing Society.

Below are the remarks of the editors, and some of Ellen’s colleagues, meditated upon ever since and now collected as a collective heartfelt personal tribute. However, all the issues she saw to press form the best tribute to her. No finer editor has JML known. — Dan O’Hara

Robert L. Caserio

I find the sense of Ellen’s loss growing, rather than diminishing. That is not surprising, of course; one never feels the fact of death immediately, especially when one is mostly at long distance from the deceased. Surely the person is still “there.” But now that I don’t receive daily e-mails from Ellen, and don’t any longer send her notes, the absence penetrates.

Everyone will comment on Ellen’s meticulous editing and her fierce assessments of essays. If she thought a writer was needlessly obscure, or intellectually and stylistically sloppy, or lacking an argument, she articulated her judgments bluntly, without false or falsifying finesse. Consequently, as a fellow editor, I could feel awed by her forthrightness, and a little scared of it, too. After all, she was unafraid of judging lapses in her fellow editors no less fiercely. But no sooner [End Page vi] than she showed how tough and uncompromising she was did she also show how generously tolerant and forgiving she was.

What could be better, professionally and personally, than the combination of severity and openness? It all stemmed from an unwavering honesty. As a result of her retirement, she seemed to be living for the journal much of the time. But she also lived for political commitments to progressive candidates and causes; for opera; and for the Phillies. If the Phillies had gotten into the series this year, she would have hung on until it was over. I have no interest in sports, and mostly loathe the national addiction to them; but Ellen got me interested in the Phillies. Unbelievable!

I miss writing her gossip about opera. She was a board member and season ticket holder to Philadelphia’s Center City Opera Theater. Ellen liked backing underdogs, and she was more concerned with the nascent and struggling venture than with the big organizations. I think she didn’t much like the Met, because it was the big bullying business in the field.

Clearly, as her feminism suggests, she hated bullies. The last time I saw her I found out things about her history I did not know. She grew up in a town near Harrisburg named Swatara. I see signs for it on the highway that takes me back and forth to Penn State. Before this, it was just an exotic name in Wallace Stevens. She taught me how to pronounce the name correctly.

I learned too that Ellen met her first husband at Cambridge University, where she worked on her dissertation. He acquired a job at Princeton, and she went along, shelving her academic work to have children and raise them. But being a wife and a mother was not enough. She “moved on,” as they say now, to realize her own scholarship and scholarly and editorial careers, teaching everyone she met along the way how to be more finely human.

Paula Marantz Cohen

I first met Ellen Rose when we worked together at Drexel years ago. We then reconnected a decade or so ago as co-editors on JML, where she soon took on the role of Executive Editor. Ellen was an exceptional colleague. This only became clearer to me as I got to...


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