Claudia Tate

In Memoriam (1946 - 2002)
Professor of English and African American Studies

A remembrance written by Dr. Nell Painter -

A brilliant scholar of American, women’s, and African-American literature, Claudia Tate succumbed to small cell lung cancer in Fair Haven, New Jersey, on 29 July 2002. She was fifty-five years old and in the midst of a new research project. Claudia Tate always exceeded the normative “protocols,” as she termed them, of literature, scholarship, and race. Against prevailing assumptions that prized only writing in the political protest vein, she insisted that the work of nineteenth- and twentieth-century black women writers was important and fully worthy of the sustained, thoughtful, Freudian criticism she provided. Tate’s iconoclasm immeasurably enriched criticism of African-American authors, especially, but not exclusively women. Tate's legacies are several: to her scholarly field, a far more capacious literary criticism; to her students and colleagues, friendship and professional advancement; to her family and friends, an unforgettable personality and the warmth of permanent commitment.