Christina Crosby, professor of English, passed away Jan. 5 at the age of 67. She also was professor of feminist, gender, and sexuality studies.
Crosby arrived at Wesleyan in 1982 after receiving her AB from Swarthmore College and PhD from Brown University. She was a respected Victorianist, feminist, and theorist who was widely published, including two books, The Ends of History: Victorians and “The Woman Question” (Routledge, 1990) and A Body, Undone: Living on After Great Pain (NYU Press, 2016). She received Wesleyan’s Binswanger Prize for Excellence in Teaching in 1994.
“Christina was a brilliant scholar-teacher,” recalled Natasha Korda, professor of English, “and an uncommonly generous colleague and mentor. Suddenly bereft of her presence, many of us are reeling, and at a loss for words, wishing that we could channel her eloquence to convey fully the contours of her extraordinary life and achievements. Our only solace is that Christina is now beyond the ‘great pain’ through which she lived on after her bicycling accident, and about which she wrote so beautifully in her recent book, A Body Undone. She was, as one colleague put it, the ‘heart and soul’ of the FGSS program over many years.”
Former students, Assistant Professors Abigail Boggs (Sociology) and Laura Grappo (American Studies), said: “Christina was a legend; an incomparable mentor and colleague. Our campus and my life will not be the same without her brilliance, eloquence, and kindness, and simply her presence;” and “(her) passing is heartbreaking and a devastating loss for the Wesleyan Community.”
“With Christina’s death we have lost a dear friend and valued colleague,” remarked Benjamin Waite Professor of the English Language, Emeritus, William Stowe. “She was a rigorous but popular teacher and mentor, a vigorous intellectual interlocutor, a skilled department leader, and a great baker of pies. After her devastating accident she deployed prodigious grit and courage to regain her independence, return to teaching, and write A Body, Undone, a moving, probing memoir that became a founding text in the new field of disability studies.”
President Michael Roth said: “Christina Crosby’s death is a profound loss for the Wesleyan community. After her accident, she wrote that “If I am to continue living, I must be open to being swept away.” Not only did she stay open, she found ways to open her students, colleagues and friends to being swept away by literature, by activism, and by passionate engagement with art and with the world.”
Crosby is survived by Beth Crosby, Kirsten Crosby Blose, Colin Crosby, Matt Blose, Andrea Crosby-Molina, Justin Blose, Alexander Blose, Annalia Crosby-Molina, Santiago Crosby-Molina, and her partner, Janet Jakobsen.
The Center for the Humanities will host a memorial for her this spring. Memorial contributions in her name can be made to the Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program at Wesleyan (give.wesleyan.edu), to Sojourner House (sojournerri.org), or Metropolitan Playhouse (metropolitanplayhouse.org).
Read her full obituary in the New York Times.