It is with profound and heartfelt regret that the Department of American and Canadian Studies at the University of Nottingham announces the retirement as of September this year of Professor Judie Newman O.B.E., a world-renowned scholar of nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first century American literature, Postcolonial literature and the literature of slavery, among much much more.
Professor Newman was brought up and educated in Thurso, Caithness, Scotland. She gained Honours MA in English Language and Literature (1972) and in French Language and Literature (1974) at the University of Edinburgh. She worked at the University of Metz, (1972-3), then gained a Carnegie fellowship for doctoral study (Clare College, Cambridge, PhD American literature 1982). From 1976 to 1999 she was Lecturer, Reader, and then Professor of American and Postcolonial Literature, School of English, University of Newcastle Upon Tyne, moving in 2000 to the Chair of American Studies at the University of Nottingham. She is a recipient of the Arthur Miller Prize in American Studies, a former Chair of the British Association for American Studies, a Founding Fellow of the English Association, and an Academician, Academy of Learned Societies in the Social Sciences.
As testament to Professor Newman’s stellar contributions to her intellectual fields over the decades, she was awarded the OBE in June 2012 for services to scholarship.
A prolific and exceptional researcher as well as a beautifully eloquent and brilliantly erudite writer, Professor Newman’s publications are vastly wide-ranging, intellectually expansive and theoretically cutting-edge. Covering a breath-taking array of timeframes, national contexts, intellectual concerns and thematic issues, she has published numerous monographs over the decades which have all augured a sea change in scholarship. These include: Saul Bellow and History (Palgrave Macmillan, 1984), John Updike (Palgrave Macmillan, 1988), Nadine Gordimer (Routledge 1988), Nadine Gordimer: Palabra, Sexo y Consciencia en Africa (1997), The Ballistic Bard: Postcolonial Fictions (Hodder Education, 1995); Alison Lurie (Editions Rodopi B. V., 2000); Nadine Gordimer’s Burger’s Daughter: A Casebook (Oxford University Press, 2003), Fictions of America: Narratives of Global Empire (Routledge, 2007); ed. with Celeste-Marie Bernier, Public Art, Memorials and Atlantic Slavery (Routledge 2009. 2010); and Utopia and Terror in Contemporary American Fiction (Routledge 2013, 2014). Leading the intellectual vanguard, she was the first scholar to edit Harriet Beecher Stowe’s lesser known yet hauntingly powerful tale of black revolutionary heroism, Dred: A Tale of the Great Dismal Swamp (Edinburgh University Press, 1992, 1999, 2014). Among Professor Newman’s numerous forthcoming publications is her co-edited volume (with Celeste-Marie Bernier and Matthew Pethers) titled, Edinburgh Companion to Nineteenth-Century Letters and Letter Writing (forthcoming Edinburgh University Press, 2016) for which she has written a seminal essay on Louisa May Alcott. In addition to her superlative array of book publications, she has written over one hundred essays on a breathtaking number of topics including slave narratives and neo-slave narratives, Black Atlanticism, Utopia and Dystopia, and in addition to excavating and examining a vast array of works written by Anglo American, African American, Jewish American, Chinese American authors.
Professor Judie Newman’s stellar accomplishments are by no means restricted to her inspirational and seminal contributions to national and international research arenas in her role as the leading Professor of American Studies of her generation. In addition to her exemplary achievements in research, she is a world-class teacher who has committed her career to inspiring, motivating, supporting and caring for students. Always a source not only of intellectual dynamism, inspirational leadership and visionary expertise, Professor Newman is an exceptionally kind and generous colleague who provides any and every support by freely offering her advice and also by acting as an exceptional mentor, advisor and friend.
As the UK Higher Education landscape shifts and turns in a myriad of constellations, words fail to express the fundamental honour it has been to have the privilege of working alongside Professor Newman. The corridors of the Trent Building will never be the same without Professor Newman’s joyful, whistling, inspirational presence and so this is a perfect reason, if any were needed, to entice her back at any and every opportunity. We will miss you.
Celeste-Marie Bernier is a Professor of African American Studies at the University of Nottingham, UK, and Associate Editor of the Journal of American Studies (Cambridge University Press). Currently Celeste is a Visiting Professor at the North American Institute, King’s College London.