After four years as an instructor and assistant professor at Harvard University, including a year as a fellow of the American Academy in Rome, Janet Martin spent the rest of her career at Princeton, where she joined the faculty as an assistant professor in 1973 and was promoted to associate professor in 1976. She received her A.B. in the history and literature of the Middle Ages at Radcliffe College and, after receiving a master’s in classical studies at the University of Michigan, returned to Harvard for her Ph.D. in medieval Latin, which was awarded in 1968. The Latin, literature, and history of the Middle Ages remained at the center of her teaching and scholarship at Princeton. Janet’s edition of selected letters of Peter the Venerable was published by the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies in 1974, and there followed a series of papers on the reception and circulation of classical literature in medieval Europe and a study on the text and music of Hildegard of Bingen. As a teacher, too, she brought medieval Latin and literature, the classical tradition, and Latin paleography and textual criticism to students at both the undergraduate and the graduate levels, in addition to teaching courses on the authors of the classical Latin canon. A decade’s service on the executive committee of the Program in Medieval Studies was among her many contributions to the University community, and she has long been a mainstay of the Classical Association of the Atlantic States.
As the first woman promoted to tenure in the classics department’s history, Janet was also in the vanguard of the feminist movement in the profession, in the classroom and beyond. From undergraduate courses on the tragic heroine and women’s writings to a graduate seminar on feminist literary theory and the classics, her teaching helped to open new vistas in the field and raise consciousness when it much needed raising, and in 1996 she co-organized the conference “Feminism and Classics: Framing the Research Agenda” that was among the gatherings held to celebrate Princeton’s 250th anniversary. Nationally, Janet was among the founders and leaders of the Women’s Classical Caucus, which through its support of women, their rights, and their interests, has made the academic world of classics a much more equitable, hospitable, and interesting place than it had been for generations. For such work, as for her teaching, generations of students at Princeton and beyond are in Janet’s debt.