Suzanne Nash has spent 40 years at Princeton, arriving as a graduate student and moving through the ranks to full professor in the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures and the current Department of French and Italian. Her research and teaching range across French poetry and poetic theory from 1800 to the present; Baudelaire, Hugo, Apollinaire, and Valéry; the interrelations of literature and the visual arts, poetry, and sculpture; 19th- and 20th-century literary studies; as well as feminist history, theory, and practice. Her first two books, “Les Contemplations” of Victor Hugo: An Allegory of the Creative Process and Paul Valéry’s “Album de vers anciens”: A Past Transfigured were published by Princeton University Press in 1976 and 1983, and were praised as outstanding contributions to our knowledge of French poetry, and poetics in general. In 1993, she edited an important collection of essays, Home and Its Dislocations in Nineteenth Century France, for which she wrote a brilliant introduction.
Suzanne also has made substantial contributions to The Johns Hopkins Guide to Literary Theory and The New Oxford Companion to Literature in French, as well as numerous articles on modern French poets. She is a demanding scholar; she never takes short-cuts or settles into comfortable routines, but insists on constantly exploring new avenues in criticism and literature. She sets high standards for herself and for others.
Suzanne was director of the Program in Women’s Studies at Princeton in the early 1990s. Within the department, she often served as director of graduate studies and guided the move to a five-year graduate program in French studies. She participated energetically in search and reappointment committees, and was an active member of a Committee for Curricular Review whose proposals led to a wide-ranging revision of our undergraduate curriculum. She also has served on two major University committees: the Committee on Graduate Study and the Council of the Princeton University Community. Suzanne was also a faculty adviser to Critical Matrix, the scholarly journal of the women graduate students at Princeton. Unusually generous with her time and energy, and meticulous in her preparation, she has led successfully several Alumni Colleges in France, and has been a favorite guest lecturer for Princeton alumni.
Suzanne is an energetic teacher, passionately involved with her subject matter, and always developing new courses in all areas of 19th- and 20th-century literature, as well as modern literary theories and methods. Serious, motivated students recognized how much she put into her teaching and how much they could benefit from it. Graduate students knew that she made the same demands on herself, where they were concerned, as she made on them. For this reason she was one of the most sought-after Ph.D. thesis directors in the French section, and many of her students now have distinguished careers. In recognition of her exceptionally generous mentorship, a dozen former graduate students celebrated her career as a teacher-scholar in a symposium at Princeton in May 2006.
Suzanne will remain productive and creative in retirement. Among her many scholarly works in progress are two highly promising books, tentatively titled Baudelaire and the Painters of Modern Life and Poétique de la Sculpture 1789–1848. She plans to share her time between Princeton and Paris. We look forward to her ongoing presence, and wish her many creative years.