Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick

Doctor of Letters

In 1985, when you were an associate professor of English here, you delivered a talk to the newly coeducational campus. Titled "Sabrina Doesn't Live Here Anymore," it took off from the traditional outrages committed against the bronze statue you referred to as "the first woman at Amherst." Your presentation aimed its witty barbs at a largely WASP male establishment, yet managed also to acknowledge the intellectual and emotional needs of all of Amherst's students and faculty.

While at Amherst you published two influential scholarly books—Between Men: English Literature and Male Homosocial Desire, and Epistemology of the Closet—which helped bring to national prominence the emerging field of gay and lesbian studies. A writer and editor of many critical studies on literature and sexuality, you have also written a volume of poetry, Fat Art, Thin Art.

One of the founders of Amherst's Department of Women's and Gender Studies, you went on to become a professor in the Duke University Department of English, and since 1998, a distinguished professor of English at the CUNY Graduate Center.

You have never shrunk from enquiring into your own experience. As a monthly columnist for the breast cancer survivor's magazine, MAMM, you have mused on such elemental topics as chemotherapy-induced baldness. Most recently you published A Dialogue on Love, an experiment in poetry and prose exploring the psychotherapy that followed your cancer treatment.

Recipient of many honors, you have become increasingly global in your influence as your work has been translated into dozens of languages. You are known as an impassioned defender of human dignity, of the simple fact—so difficult to register fully—that "people are different from each other." Your former college salutes you for the many lives you have touched and for your fearless pursuit of often surprising and sometimes painful truths.

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