- Gita May, Women in French Studies Advisory Board In Memoriam
Gita May served as a mentor to me, beginning with my second year in the PhD program at Columbia University. I met her when I took a course on the 18th-century French novel. I remember vividly even today sitting in that class and feeling inspired by her passion. When she talked about George Sand in her 18th-Century French novel class and I was doing a presentation on Sand’s Leone Leoni, she banged her fist on the table while announcing that she truly blamed Baudelaire’s misogynous attitude towards George Sand. She told us that George Sand never fully received the recognition of being a first-rate writer because she was a woman author and that male critics like Baudelaire continued to frame her as a second-class author. Gita May’s teaching and statements marked me and made me want to discover more of Sand. I decided to pursue a M.A. thesis on George Sand with such an inspiring professor. After this M.A. thesis, with Gita May’s encouragement, I began a PhD thesis on George Sand. It is Gita May too who brought me in contact with the Women in French association and later the [End Page 11] George Sand Association. It is also thanks to her that I submitted an article for the Women in French Studies Graduate Essay Award and won that year.
Gita May’s kindness and early support for me made all the difference in my path. Many of you may have had the privilege of knowing her and the influence she exerted on young scholars like me to pursue work on George Sand. Pioneering scholars like Gita May in Women in French touch the lives of the next generation of scholars and make sure the torch is passed on. I honor Gita May and remember her with great affection.