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Blanche H. Gelfant

Hanover, N.H. — Blanche H. Gelfant passed away, unexpectedly, on Friday, Aug. 2, 2013.  Professor Gelfant received her B.A. degree from Brooklyn College and M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Wisconsin at Madison. She has taught at many academic institutions, including Queens College, the University of Southern California, the State University of New York at Syracuse, and since 1972 at Dartmouth College. She held the distinction of being the first, full-tenured woman professor at Dartmouth. 

She has held fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the American Association of University Women. She has also held a Mellon Fellowship at the Wellesley College Center for Research for Women. The breadth and perspicacity of Professor Gelfant’s scholarship are legendary among students of American literature. Her books range from her pioneering study The American City Novel (1954) to Women Writing in America: Voices in Collage (1985) and Cross-Cultural Reckonings: A Triptych of Russian, American, and Canadian Texts, issued this year by Cambridge University Press. She has published articles and book chapters on such diverse authors as Jack Kerouac, Joan Didion, Emma Goldman, James T. Farrell, William Faulkner, John Dos Passos, Tillie Olsen, Margaret Mitchell, and Willa Cather.

As a Professor and as our mother, many people have heard and read her words, each one chosen with exquisite care and intention, We think this quote sums up her feelings and is accurate to the last moments of her life “Love what you do, do what you love with a consuming interest, have fun, do good, and keep moving.”

She is survived by her children, Nina Kay Gelfant and Alan Jason Gelfant; and grandson, Samuel Tepperman-Gelfant.  She is also survived by the breath and dimension of her written work and the scores of students who’s lives she touched.  She will be missed, but not forgotten.