Janet Martin, associate professor of classics, emeritus and expert in medieval Latin, has died of cardiovascular disease at home in Princeton, New Jersey, on August 30. She was 84 years old.
She joined the Princeton faculty in 1973, where she taught for 37 years, and transferred to emeritus status in 2010.
“Professor Martin was a pioneer in many ways,” said Barbara Graziosi, Ewing Professor of Greek Language and Literature, Professor of Classics and Chair of the Department. “She was the first woman appointed to a permanent professorship in the Department of Classics. As an early member and active participant in the Women’s Classical Caucus (WCC), she made it easier for others to follow, not only here, but throughout the United States and internationally. In 1996, Martin co-organized the conference “Feminism and Classics: Framing the Research Agenda” which was part of the gatherings held to celebrate Princeton’s 250th anniversary.
Graziosi said the appointment to the national COE strengthened Martin’s impact on the ground. “It showed the extent to which the study of medieval Latin belonged to a department of classics, particularly by illuminating the context that allowed ancient texts to survive and be received by later readers. With a focus on transmission and reception – that is, how ancient texts entered the modern world – she offered an expanded vision of our field, which we proudly embrace today . Medieval Latin continues to be an important aspect of what we offer at Princeton Classics.
Judith Peller Hallett, founding member of the Women’s Classical Caucus and professor of classics and professor emeritus emeritus at the University of Maryland-College Park, said: “From its beginnings, the WCC has benefited greatly from the keen and penetrating mind of Janet. , meticulous scholarship and a vision of a more principled and equitable future for women, as well as the study of gender, in the field of classics.
William Chester Jordan, Dayton-Stockton history professor, director of the Humanities Council’s Medieval Studies program and a 1973 alumnus, said Martin was essential to help establish the undergraduate program in medieval studies.
“Janet Martin was an excellent Latin scholar who, from early in her career at Princeton, shared her expertise with many medievalists on the faculty,” he said, noting that she frequently gave guest lectures as part of of the entry course for students of the Undergraduate Certificate in Medieval Studies. “She inspired many of them to pursue higher education in this field. »
W. Robert Connor, the Andrew Fleming West Distinguished Professor of Classics, met Martin at the University of Michigan, when she was a graduate student and he was an instructor; they became colleagues when Martin joined the Princeton faculty.
“She had an admirable command of ancient and medieval Latin,” he said. “I respected her for her high academic standards and her willingness to share her impressive knowledge with those who sincerely wanted to learn.”
Christian Wildberg, professor of classics emeritus, remembered Martin’s collegiality from the moment he arrived at the faculty.
“Janet was very friendly and supportive (I particularly remember her kindness during my job interview), and that continued over the years,” he said. “Every time I met her in the hallway, I thought there was something avuncular about her, which I thought I appreciated as a new member of the department.
Martin was born in 1938 in Bogalusa, Louisiana, one of seven children. His parents, Bruce Whittington Martin, an engineer and papermaking executive, and Edna Poyas Hall Martin, a homemaker, were both graduates of Louisiana State University. Martin received her bachelor’s degree in medieval history and literature from Radcliffe College in 1961. At Michigan, she received her master’s degree in classical studies in 1963 and earned her Ph.D. in Medieval Latin from Harvard University in 1968.
After four years as an instructor and assistant professor at Harvard University, including a year as a member of the American Academy in Rome, Martin spent the remainder of his career at Princeton. Latin, literature and medieval history remained at the center of his teaching and research at the University. His edition of selected letters of Peter the Venerable was published by the Pontifical Institute for Medieval Studies in 1974, followed by a series of articles on the reception and circulation of classical literature in medieval Europe and a study of the text and music of Hildegard of Bingen.
In the classroom, she introduced students to medieval Latin and literature, classical tradition, Latin paleography, and textual criticism. From undergraduate courses on the tragic heroine and women’s writing to a graduate seminar on feminist literary theory and classics, her teaching has helped open new perspectives in the field.
His undergraduate courses included “The Age of Nero,” “Introduction to Medieval Latin,” “Texts and Experiences of Women in Classical Antiquity and the Middle Ages,” and “The World of the Middle Ages,” among others. Her graduate seminars included “Problems in Latin Literature: Feminist Literary Theory and Classics,” “A Survey of Medieval Latin Literature,” and “The Classical Tradition in the Middle Ages” (sometimes taught under the title “Medieval Latin Literature and Experience women”), among others.
Daniel Turkeltaub, a 1996 classics major who also earned a certificate in medieval studies, said the “insightful advice” he received from Martin as a senior thesis advisor and in the classroom still informs his own work with students as an associate professor and chair of the classics department at Santa Clara University.
“Professor Martin was a kind, generous and flexible mentor who supported his students while giving them the space to pursue their own interests,” said Turkeltaub, who took his final year of medieval Latin courses. He remembers how she took advantage of the small class size to choose “fascinating readings that were unusual but suited to her students’ personal interests.”
When Turkeltaub had difficulty choosing a thesis topic, Martin gave her a book that she thought might interest her, “European Literature and the Latin Middle Ages” by Ernst Curtius. A paragraph on page 30 gave him the idea that launched his thesis. “She helped me gain the confidence to write a senior thesis on the rather bizarre topic I had chosen -”The gods of medieval Troy: an analysis of the representations of classical gods in the texts of Dares and Dictys » – even though it wasn’t something she had explored before. I have tried to emulate his flexibility and kindness even today when I advise my own students, even when they bring me ideas for their capstone projects that are just as unusual and new to me as the idea that I brought to him 28 years ago.
Angela Bell, a classics major and member of the Class of 1993 who is now vice chancellor for research and policy analysis at the University System of Georgia, took classes in Roman satire and medieval Latin with Martin.
“Professor Martin was very passionate about these topics and her enthusiasm for them shone through in her teaching,” Bell said. “In particular, she ensured that we understood and appreciated the humor of satire, and the Medieval Latin course was an opportunity to learn more about women authors. His high standards pushed me to work hard and improve my exam answers. Her feminist reading of classical texts was influential on my independent work at Princeton and even on my teaching of high school Latin for many years.
Martin’s many contributions to the academic community include more than a decade of service on the Medieval Studies Program Executive Committee, as well as her role as a founding member of the Women’s Studies Committee and as an associate faculty member of the Women’s Studies Program (now the Gender and Sexuality Studies Program). She was also a longtime member of the American Philological Association and the Classical Association of the Atlantic States.
Martin is survived by his brother James, his sister Nancy, five nephews and two nieces.
Those wishing to make a contribution in Martin’s memory can send them to Trinity Church in Princeton or to the Gender and Sexuality Studies Program at Princeton University (make checks payable to “Princeton University” and note in the memo line “Janet Martin Memorial Fund” and send with a brief cover letter to Princeton University, Alumni and Donor Records, Helen Hardy, PO Box 5357, Princeton, NJ 08543-5357, or make a donation online — click on the “in honor/memory of” box and write in the “special instructions and comments” field that the donation is in memory of Janet Martin).
View or share comments on a commemorative page intended to honor Martin’s life and legacy.