Charge to Marjorie Garber '66
Honorary Degree Citation
Marjorie Garber, you are a leading Shakespearean scholar and a versatile, daring, and insightful interpreter of intellectual, emotional, and cultural life. You have been named by The New York Times as one of the most powerful women in the academic world.
You graduated from Swarthmore in 1966 with highest honors in English literature, history and fine arts. After completing your Ph.D. in English at Yale in 1969, you taught there, then at Haverford, and are now William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of English at Harvard, where you also chair the Department of Visual and Environmental Studies and direct both the Humanities Center and the Carpenter Center of Visual Arts.
Your writings on Shakespeare quickly catapulted you into international distinction in that field. In Dream in Shakespeare: From Metaphor to Metamorphosis, you examine Shakespeare's use of dreams to represent the unconscious; in Coming of Age in Shakespeare, you bring anthropological, psychological, and sociological perspectives to an analysis of rites of passage in his plays; in Shakespeare's Ghost Writers: Literature as Uncanny Causality, you wonder why so many modern thinkers are drawn to and yet disturbed by Shakespeare's work.
And from Shakespearean scholarship you moved on to interrogate a truly astounding range of cultural topics, from cross-dressing to bisexuality, from ghostwriters to Magritte's lovers, from Laurence Olivier to Monica Lewinsky. In Dog Love, you explore the ways in which we invest our pets with meaning; in Sex and Real Estate, drawing richly from sources in literature, art, film, and everyday experience, you reveal how we conceive, inhabit, and desire our homes. In Academic Interests, which has been called "the best hope we have for scholarly survival," you refute the "either/or" dichotomy of culture wars; and in A Manifesto for Literary Studies, you interpret and affirm the power of literary criticism to "change the world."
In the classroom, you are equally masterful at exploring the unknown, at opening conceptual doorways, at unsettling boundaries; and you have earned the respect of generations of students for your formative impact on them. Your writings also enjoy a vital place in the syllabi of Swarthmore courses, delivering to this community their magical and transformative effects.
Marjorie Garber, you offer fresh understanding of the ancients and fresh understanding of our own dreams, our desires, our cultural and literary commentary and ourselves and, with revolutionary insight and creativity, place the humanities at the forefront of intellectual change. We are deeply proud that your undergraduate years at Swarthmore have helped shape who you are.
Upon the recommendation of the faculty and by the power vested in me by the Board of Managers of Swarthmore College and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, I have the honor to bestow upon you the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters.