Naomi Schor, the acting director of graduate studies for the French Department, died suddenly on Sunday at noon from a brain hemorrhage. She was 58. Her death came just two days after checking into Yale-New Haven Hospital.
Schor, a renowned scholar of 19th century French literature and feminist studies, was married to French professor Howard Bloch since 1999.
She was “incredibly intelligent, warm and extraordinarily elegant in everything she did, including the expression of ideas,” Bloch said. “She cared passionately about France and about French literature, and she managed to convey that passion to her students wherever she taught.”
After professorships at Harvard, Brown, and Duke universities, Schor arrived at Yale in 1998. Yale College Dean Richard Brodhead said Schor had been particularly happy at Yale and that her presence would be sorely missed.
“Naomi was a wonderful person,” Brodhead said. “She was not only a brilliant and influential student of literature, but a person of great vivacity and generosity, so it’s a terrible loss.”
This semester, Schor had been teaching a French literature seminar about the works of Flaubert and Maupassant.
Ryan Poynter GRD ’05, Schor’s student and research assistant for the last two years, said Schor was a caring and inspiring professor.
“Anytime you got a paper back, you got the feeling that she had read it with the utmost care,” Poynter said. “She was able to really get to the heart of any argument you were trying to make.”
Graduate School Dean Susan Hockfield said that Schor had performed wonderfully as the acting DGS of French this semester.
“She really took this position on with enormous dedication and interest,” Hockfield said. “I was impressed with how deeply she became engaged in her role.”
Hockfield said that because Schor died so suddenly, the French Department has not begun to think about how they will compensate for the loss. Instead, they are currently focusing on providing support for Schor’s family.
A prolific author, Schor published works exploring a variety of fields, including 19th-century authors, feminism, aesthetics and culture. At the time of her death, Schor was in the process of writing a major work on French universalism.
“She was one of those rare scholars who was equally important in France and the United States,” French Department chairman Edwin Duval said. “So it was a major coup for us when we brought her to Yale.”
In recognition of her academic works, Schor received numerous distinctions and fellowships, including those endowed by the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities.
The daughter of artists Ilya and Resia Schor, Schor was raised in an artistic and musical environment in New York City. She was an alumna of the Lycee Francais de New York and had spent many years in Paris.
She is survived by Bloch, her mother, Resia, and her sister, Mira Schor, who is an artist and writer.