Ray Fleming in memoriam

Fri, 05/26/23
Ray Fleming, the John Francis Dugan Professor of Modern Languages and Linguistics and Distinguished University Professor of Humanities
Ray Fleming, the John Francis Dugan Professor of Modern Languages and Linguistics and Distinguished University Professor of Humanities

With deep sadness we remember our dear former colleague, Ray Fleming, the John Francis Dugan Professor of Modern Languages and Linguistics and Distinguished University Professor of Humanities, who passed away on March 22, 2023. Ray received his B.A. with a triple concentration in Modern Languages, Philosophy, and English from the University of Notre Dame and his Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from Harvard University. He taught at the University of California at San Diego, the University of Notre Dame, Miami University (Ohio), where he served as chair of Comparative Literature and Associate Dean of the Graduate School, at the Centre Universitaire (Luxembourg), at Penn State University where he was Professor of Comparative Literature and Italian and Director of the Graduate Program in Comparative Literature. He came to Florida State University in 1995 and retired as an emeritus faculty member in 2011. His primary home was in the Italian Program in Modern Languages and Linguistics but he also taught courses in the German Program and was affiliated with African-American Studies and the Human Rights Institute. As coordinator of the Italian Program here at FSU, he played an instrumental role in the establishment of the MA in Italian Studies in 1999.

His primary teaching and research centered upon European Romanticism (literature, music, and painting), the Trecento (Dante, Boccaccio, and Petrarch), African-American Studies, Thomas Mann, Toni Morrison, Literary Criticism and Theory, and Modern European and American Poetry.

His many recognitions and awards include a Fulbright grant to Italy, a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship, Ford Foundation Fellowship, Alexander von Humboldt Europa Fellowship to Germany and England, an American Council of Learned Societies Fellowship, School of Criticism and Theory Fellowship (Northwestern University). He was also twice a recipient of National Endowment for the Humanities summer grants (Dartmouth and UCLA), as well as a recipient of the Ingram-Merrill Award for poetry and a Djerassi Artist (poet) in Residence.

He also served as president of the International Conference on Romanticism and was a board member of the Associazione Internazionale per gli studi di lingua e letteratura as well as serving on the editorial boards of Comparative Literature Studies and Prisms: The Journal of the International Conference on Romanticism. He was on the editorial board of the University of Mississippi’s Series in Race, Rhetoric, and Media. He reviewed book manuscripts and articles for the University of Kentucky Press, Penn State University Press, Palgrave Press (MacMillan), The German Quarterly, The Romantic Review, MLN, Argo (England), Choice, The Milton Quarterly, African-American Review, and Comparative Literature Studies.

He is the author of Keats, Leopardi, and Holderlin: The Poet as Priest of the Absolute (Garland Publishing, 1987) and Ice and Honey (Dorrance Press, 1979). In addition, he published numerous articles, reviews, translations and poems. Among his articles are “Thomas Mann and the Politics of Sexual Inversion” in American Literature at the Edge of the XX-XXI Centuries (Institute of International Relations, February 2004), "Thomas Mann’s Dante and Weimar Humanism" (Prisms Vol. 7, 1999), "Happy Endings? Resisting Women and the Economy of Love in Day Five of Boccaccio's Decameron," (Italica, Spring 1993), "Race and the Difference It Makes in Kleist's 'Die Verlobung in St. Domingo,'" (The German Quarterly, Vol. 65. No. 3-4, Summer-Fall 1992), “Francesca's Sweet New Subversive Style in Inferno V." Lectura Dantis, No. 3, Fall 1988), and "Sublime and Pure Thoughts, Without Transgression: The Dantean Influence in Milton’s 'Donna leggiadra,' " (Milton Quarterly, Vol. 20, No. 2, May 1986).

What Ray would be most proud of was the impact he had on our students as educator and mentor. He received a Florida State University Teaching Award in 1999 and was nominated for this award nearly every year that he was on the FSU faculty. However, the award and the many nominations tell only a small part of the special relationship that he had with his students.

We miss his intellectual energy and his staunch advocacy of the students. Above all, we will miss his engaging and uplifting smile that was always accompanied by inspiring and supportive words.