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A Passion for Getting It Right

Essays and Appreciations in Honor of Michael J. Colacurcio’s 50 Years of Teaching

Carol M. Bensick

For 50 years Michael J. Colacurcio has been a leader in the criticism of early and antebellum American literature. In The Province of Piety, New Essays on The Scarlet Letter, Doctrine and Difference, and Godly Letters, as well as editions and often-reprinted reviews and essays, Dr. Colacurcio has continued to defend a rare vision of the political and intellectual depth of America’s serious fiction and the aesthetic power and charm of its religious poetry and prose. In light of many honors such as the Book of the Year Award from the Conference of Christianity and Literature and election in 2007 to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, UCLA raised him to the rank of Distinguished Professor. Yet for all his dedication to research, his students know him as an unforgettable teacher, who has continued to win several teaching awards at both Cornell and UCLA. The present volume aspires to celebrate Dr. Colacurcio’s 50 years of transformative teaching through an exciting bounty of original and classic essays by some of his most talented students and eminent colleagues from his very first years at Cornell up to and including his current students at UCLA.
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CAROL M. BENSICK earned her B.A. with an honors thesis on the Hawthorne-Melville friendship. Based on this thesis, the Cornell graduate advisor, before classes started, suggested she make Michael Colacurcio her advisor. On the way to her M.A. and Ph.D., she served as TA or Reader in three successive sittings of Colacurcio’s classical three-course upper-division survey of American Literature to 1914, filling in on sessions on Dickinson and Emerson. While she went on to publish on Hawthorne (and others), her proudest academic accomplishment was teaching the three-term survey (and/or pieces of it) at several research universities.

INNA BLYAKHMAN is a graduate student in the Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She has a background in microbiology and English. Inna now studies measles virus and is completing a master’s thesis upon how defective virus particles activate the innate immune response. Her research interests extend to the medical humanities, including the impact of literature on modern medicine and the role of medicine in American literature from the colonial period through the nineteenth century.

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