Open main menu

Barbara Kiefer Lewalski

  (Redirected from Barbara Lewalski)

Barbara Josephine Lewalski (née Kiefer; February 22, 1931 – March 2, 2018)[1][2] was an American academic, an authority on Renaissance literature particularly known for her work on John Milton.[3]



Her first book, Milton’s Brief Epic: The Genre, Meaning and Art of Paradise Regained, has been praised as a "trail-blazing" work that marshals "great learning in the service of understanding a specific artefact, without swamping the artefact."[4]

From 1983-2010 she was the William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of English Literature and of History and Literature at Harvard University. From 1956-82 she taught at Brown University, holding the positions of Alumni-Alumnae University Professor from 1976–82, Director of Graduate Studies in English from 1968–72 and Chair of the Renaissance Studies Program from 1976-80.

She was elected to The American Philosophical Society (1986), The American Academy of Arts and Sciences AAAS (1980), The International Association of University Professors of English (1977) and chosen as an Honored Scholar by The Milton Society of America (1977).[5]


Born in Topeka, Kansas to John Kiefer, a farmer, and Vivo (née Hutton), an elementary schoolteacher and speech therapist, she graduated B.S.E. at Emporia State University in 1950 and A.M. in 1951. She went on to earn a PhD at the University of Chicago in 1956.[6][7]

She was a Guggenheim Fellow in 1967,[8] and was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1980 and a member of the American Philosophical Society in 1986.[2]

In 2016, the Renaissance Society of America awarded her the Paul Oskar Kristeller Lifetime Achievement Award for recognition of her decades of influential scholarship.[4]

Personal life and deathEdit

Married for 50 years, Lewalski and her husband, Kenneth (1925–2006), had one son, David.[9]

Lewalski died in Providence, Rhode Island at the age of 87. She had congestive heart failure and died of a heart attack on March 2, 2018.[10]



  1. ^ Roberts, Sam (March 29, 2018). "Barbara Lewalski, 87, Milton Scholar and Barrier Breaker, Is Dead". The New York Times. Retrieved 2018-03-30.
  2. ^ a b Barbara Lewalski profile. Retrieved 2018-03-10.
  3. ^ Raymond, Joad (April 19, 2002). "Milton lost in single-mindedness". Times Higher Education.
  4. ^ a b Simpson, James. "Barbara Lewalski Awarded The Paul Oskar Kristeller Lifetime Achievement Award - Harvard University Department of English". Harvard University Department of English. Retrieved 2018-03-05.
  5. ^ Roberts, Sam (29 March 2018). "Barbara Lewalski, 87, Milton Scholar and Barrier Breaker, Is Dead". The New York Times. Retrieved 19 June 2019.
  6. ^ "Lewalski, Barbara Kiefer". Contemporary Authors, New Revision Series. Gale. 2009. Retrieved 2018-03-10 – via
  7. ^ "English". Harvard University. Archived from the original on February 4, 2010. Retrieved 2010-01-25.
  8. ^ "All Fellows". John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. Archived from the original on June 3, 2011. Retrieved 2010-01-25.
  9. ^ "Barbara Kiefer Lewalski's Obituary on The Providence Journal". The Providence Journal.
  10. ^ Moore, Katie (April 3, 2018). "Barbara Kiefer Lewalski, prominent scholar of literature who was born in Topeka, dies at 87". The Topeka Capital-Journal. Retrieved 2018-04-06.

Further readingEdit