A beloved medievalist retires
Sturges arrived at ASU in 2006, a year before I joined the ASU faculty in English literature. We are both medievalists, interested in the later Middle Ages, so we had much to talk about immediately. We alternated teaching sections of Geoffrey Chaucer’s works, and Sturges also taught courses on queer theory, the Bible as literature, medieval literary theory, Arthurian literature, and medieval women writers. His interest in literary theory in the Middle Ages and in particular in queer theory resulted in a number of important essays and books, among them Medieval Interpretation: Models of Reading in Literary Narrative, 1100-1500 (Southern Illinois University Press, 1991); Chaucer’s Pardoner and Gender Theory: Bodies of Discourse (St. Martin’s Press, 2000); Dialogue and Deviance: Male-male Desire in the Dialogue Genre (Plato to Aelred, Plato to Sade, Plato to the Postmodern) (Palgrave Macmillan, 2005); and The Circulation of Power in Medieval Biblical Drama: Theaters of Authority (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015). Sturges also remained committed to comparative literature: his marvelous edition and translation of the comic Old French Aucassin and Nicolette was published by Michigan State University Press in 2015.
Sturges’s scholarship and teaching testify to his success as an academic, but more than that, he is also a model of a true colleague, someone who not only works with others, but even more cares about the welfare of others. He served for a while as director of graduate studies and was elected and re-elected to the budget and personnel committee almost every year that he was a member of the English department faculty, signs of recognition of his fairness in dealing with his colleagues. Empathy for everyone in the university community is so central to him that he became one of the early members of our union: United Campus Workers of Arizona.
It is an honor to be able to call Bob a friend, just as it has been a pleasure to work with him over the past fifteen years. He will be missed.
Image: ASU directory photo of Robert Sturges.