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
While at Amherst you published two influential scholarly booksBetween
Men: English Literature and Male Homosocial Desire, and Epistemology of
the Closetwhich 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 factso difficult to
register fullythat "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.