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Summer 2001

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Feminist literary scholar retires

     Author, professor, and feminist scholar Charlotte Margolis Goodman, a member of the English faculty since 1974, retired this spring.

Charlotte Goodman retires after twenty-seven years in the English Department.

     A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Wellesley College, Goodman at first began preparation for a career as an English teacher, earning a Harvard M.A.T. in 1956. But her entry into the professional world—and eventually into the professoriate—was delayed by other priorities. In fact, Goodman told her Skidmore colleagues upon her retirement, “Twenty-eight years ago, as the wife of a physician, the mother of three children, and a part-time high school teacher, this moment was only a dream.” But it was a dream she never abandoned while raising a family. In 1964 she earned an M.A. and in 1971, following completion of a dissertation on the work of Henry James, she was awarded a Ph.D. from Brandeis University.

     Goodman’s students in American literature have praised her passion for the texts and for teaching, the variety of modes in which she presents course material, her eagerness to help, and her respect for them. In addition, her remarkable energy for scholarly work led to the publication of some twenty substantive essays. In just one year, remembers one of her colleagues, Goodman lectured and wrote on Philip Roth, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Edith Summers Kelley, Elizabeth Stuart Phelps, Doris Lessing, Jean Stafford, Edith Wharton, Shalom Aleichem, and the art of biography.

     Goodman’s most notable publication is the biography of Jean Stafford, A Savage Heart, an exhaustive, complex, and exhilarating endeavor, which, in 1995 as the Moseley Faculty Lecturer, she shared with the Skidmore community. On that occasion she said, “Most recent women biographers of women writers do have one important thing in common: we all have come of age intellectually during an era when feminist scholarship in a variety of disciplines has dramatically transformed our views of women’s lives and their work. Because I myself was a wife and mother by the time I began my college teaching career, I was particularly sensitive to the way in which conflicts between domestic imperatives and the pursuit of a literary career were expressed in Jean Stafford’s life.” —ACH


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