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NIU remembers James Mellard

July 31, 2014
James Mellard

James Mellard

James (Jim) Mellard, a Professor Emeritus in the NIU Department of English, died Sunday, July 27. Mellard leaves his wife, Sue Gilbert Mellard; three daughters; and two grandchildren.

Mellard was widely published, with 70 articles to his name. He wrote many books, including, “Beyond Lacan; Using Lacan, Reading Fiction;” “The Exploded Form: The Modernist Novel in America;” “The Authentic Writer: Freshman Rhetoric and Composition;” “Four Modes: A Rhetoric of Modern Fiction;” “Quaternion: Poems, Stories, and Plays; and “Doing Tropology: Analysis of Narrative Discourse.”

He edited the journal,Style, and continued to review submissions to the journal until a year ago.

This summer, Mellard, his family and an anonymous donor endowed a scholarship to support students working for the journal.

Mellard arrived at NIU in 1967 and retired in 2000. During that time, he served the department and university in multiple capacities, most notably as department chair from 1978 to 1984; acting dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences in 1984 and 1985; as head of NIU’s re-accreditation review from 1992 to 1994; and as interim athletic director in 1987, a position held by few – if any – other English professors in the history of the discipline.

He also was active in disciplinary associations including the Modern Language Association, Midwest Modern Language Association, Association of Departments of English and the Society for the Study of Southern Literature.

Students spoke frequently of his expertise, rigor and enthusiasm as a teacher of literature, writing and critical theory. NIU rewarded Mellard’s excellence with the title of Presidential Teaching Professor. His colleagues remember his generosity, humor and kindness.

Professor John Knapp recalls his willingness to edit peers’ work.

“Jim was ALWAYS willing to help his colleagues with their writing (not to mention his students as well) and his help was instrumental in getting my first authored book published,” Knapp said. “Jim was the very model of a truly disinterested scholar. He read my works willingly, often more than once, and with great and helpful attention.”

Arrangements are private. Donations may be made to the James M. Mellard Endowment for the journal, Style, c/o the NIU Foundation.