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Carol Rupprecht
Carol Rupprecht

Hamilton Mourns Professor Emeritus Carol Rupprecht

Posted November 16, 2012
Tags Comparative Literature Faculty Hamilton Headlines

Hamilton President Joan Hinde Stewart announced in an e-mail to the campus community the death of long-time Professor Carol Rupprecht:

I write with the sad news that Professor of Comparative Literature Emeritus Carol Schreier Rupprecht died tragically Wednesday, Nov. 15, near her home in the Adirondacks. She was 73.

Carol taught on College Hill for 33 years, first as a member of the Kirkland College faculty and later at Hamilton, from which she retired in December 2007. Known for her enthusiastic commitment to her students, she was honored, in 1996, as the third recipient (after Fred Wagner and Doug Raybeck) of the Christian A. Johnson Excellence in Teaching Professorship, awarded to a tenured member of the faculty who has demonstrated exceptional talent and dedication as a teacher. In the announcement naming her to the prestigious chair, she was described as “lively, caring, provocative and demanding.”

Carol taught courses in Dante, Shakespeare, women writers of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Her scholarship focused on dreams and literary texts, which were also the subjects of her popular senior seminar, and she served as president of the International Association for the Study of Dreams and was a founder and consulting editor of the journal Dreaming. She was author of several books and numerous chapters, articles and reviews, and was a regular presenter at conferences in the U.S. and abroad. 

The recipient of a bachelor’s degree from the University of Virginia, Carol held three degrees from Yale, including her 1977 Ph.D. in comparative literature. After becoming a member of the Hamilton faculty, she also served as associate dean of students, created and directed the English as a Second Language program and chaired the Comparative Literature Department, which she helped establish.

Carol’s husband, Peter Suttmeier, a former professor of government at Hamilton, is planning a memorial service at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 24, at the Keene Valley Congregational Church.  In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made in Carol's name to the Ausable River Association, the High Peaks Educational Foundation, The Keene Valley Library Association, or The Wild Center in Tupper Lake.

 

Although I attended Hamilton College for only a single year (1984/85), Dr. Rupprecht's class remained with me throughout the years. With the passage of time, most of what I learned has grown rather hazy, I must confess, but what I do recall is that Dr. Rupprecht was unfailingly kind, encouraging, and deeply committed to encouraging our intellectual curiousity and development. At 18, I was, frankly, an "odious little snob," to borrow Orwell's phrase, yet Dr. Rupprecht was always patient with me and invariably evinced a sense of not only humor but perspective. About twenty-one years after I left Hamilton, I embarked on an ill-fated attempt to earn a Ph.D. of my own, in history. I emailed Dr. Rupprecht and she immediately emailed me back at length, with terrific, genuine enthusiasm. Despite my own frustrations and disappointment, it was most gratifying to hear from her. I was very saddened to learn of her death. Please accept my heartfelt condolence.

- Nicholas Corwin

Carol was a gifted discussion leader, and she fostered an open and creative classroom environment. One of my most cherished Hamilton memories is of sitting in the attic of Root Hall for our final Shakespeare Around the Globe class, eating Panera pastries graciously provided by Carol, reflecting on questions we still hadn't managed to answer (is Shakespeare in Japanese still Shakespeare?)

- Anne (Schlesinger) Armstrong

What devastating news. Carol was one of my greatest professors and staunchest supporters as I left the safe arms of Hamilton College and went out into the world. I still treasure all the wonderful emails she sent me with discussions on life, dreams, culture, and translation, and only wish I had kept in better touch in recent years. Her "Scandals of Translation" course was a truly formative one for me, brilliantly and innovatively taught as well as fascinating in its subject matter, and in a very real way it shaped my future career path. She was a riveting professor and an even more wonderful person, and her bright presence will be missed. I can only imagine the pain of her family, and I hope, as I know she would, that your dreams bring you comfort moving forward.

- Amanda (Hannoosh) Steinberg

I took Carol's Shakespeare class my junior year and was amazed by both the class and her. Despite being a Comp Lit major, this was my first class with Carol and the first time that I truly enjoyed reading Shakespeare. She made the bard come alive in that class. She was so engaged with her students and with the poetry and passion of the written word. Although that was my only class with Carol, I took her love for Shakespeare with me after graduation and have enjoyed many productions of his plays in the ensuing years, thinking of her fondly and appreciating this gift that she gave me. She is deeply missed.

- Sarah (Knapp) Damaske '99

Carol was my freshman advisor. Despite my great resistance, she gently encouraged me to move beyond my comfort zone and take courses in economics and science. I did not excel in either venture, but I learned to think in new ways. In addition to her academic advice, I greatly appreciated her sympathetic guidance through my early, I-am-feeling-overwhelmed, days at college. Although Carol was originally a Kirkland professor, I felt she was at the forefront of the new, co-ed Hamilton. The college has lost one of its brightest and best.

- Elaine Pezanowski Loft '82

Carol was a profound influence during my years at Kirkland/Hamilton as she was my faculty adviser in Comp Lit (K/H 81). She had incomparable energy and enthusiasm for her work and her students. Carl Jung once commented that the creative mind loves to play...Carol certainly embodied that. I recently visited the Hill with my daughter who is applying to Hamilton and we talked about how the close relationships between faculty and students lie at the heart of the school. I spoke at length about Carol in particular as having been one of those professors who shaped me. The work she did and espoused in dreams and Jungian archetypes was a way to shine the light on our common humanity and certainly has informed my worldview, influencing my approach to my work, family and community to this day. The contributions she made to the many students whose lives she touched live on. My deepest condolences to her family and loved ones.

- Stephanie Leiter

I am greatly saddened to read of Carol's passing. While I took many classes that I enjoyed while at Hamilton, I have a very clear memory of the one class that I took with Carol, a comp lit class, in the Fall of 1984. The class was outside my Public Policy and German concentrations, and was selected simply because I had heard that Carol was such a good professor. Carol didn't disappoint; she had a way of engaging the students, I could tell that she cared deeply about the subject and her students, and had a warm, approachable teaching style. Over the years I have thought of that class, and of Carol. My thought are with her husband (who was also my professor) and her family.

- Scott Brinitzer '85

I am deeply saddened to hear the news of Professor Carol Rupprecht’s passing. Carol was my professor and senior thesis advisor. She really looked after me when I needed it. Though I may not have been mature enough at the time to appreciate all she did for me – if not for Carol’s guidance, I’m not sure where I would be today. Carol was as thoughtful and loving as she was quick. What a tremendous loss.

- Zachary Kahn, '06

My faculty advisor at Hamilton for four years, Carol Rupprecht embodied the highest ideals of liberal arts education. As a comparative literature major, I took almost every course that she taught during my time on the Hill. She was a gifted teacher who warmly and thoughtfully translated her passion for world literature to the classrooms and lives of a generation of Hamilton students. Though I have not seen Carol since graduation, she continued to mentor me through correspondence over the past twenty years, supporting me through the milestones of life and advising me through challenging and sometimes unconventional career decisions. Her wisdom was a source of inspiration for me, and I am privileged to have known a person who cared so deeply for what matters most in life. I am saddened to hear of her passing, and I will miss her very much.

- Glen Davis '92

The first paper I submitted to Carol in her Intro to Comp Lit Class came back with a grade that I'd rather forget and a comment that I was "too scientific" in my analysis (or something along those lines). How could I help it - I was a pre-med trying to analyze a work of literature for the first time! She changed me with that comment - although I still ended up going to medical school, I ended up majoring in Comp Lit and I think I took almost every class that she taught during my years at Hamilton. I may still have that first paper I submitted to her - I treasure it and every memory of my time in her classroom, her office and her evening seminars. It is impossible for me to think of what my time at Hamilton might have been like if I hadn't taken that class, submitted that awful paper, or followed up with her after absorbing her insightful comments. She helped many of us become better students and better people and we will always love and remember her.

- Joseph Flynn '83

 Despite being a biology major Professor Rupprecht had a significant impact on my college experience. First semester of my sophomore year, I finally got around to taking one of my English requirements and signed up for her comparative literature course. After writing my first paper, Professor Rupprecht handed it back to me with no grade but a note to see her in office hours. She took the time to realize I had only been writing lab reports and papers in French until this time. We spent the next hour reviewing how I could reconstruct my paper and she advised me on how to formulate an argument. I was given another week to re-write the paper. I continued to struggle but I was extremely dedicated to getting better. Professor Rupprecht could have easily given me a grade on that paper and moved on. I probably would have been upset and used the excused that "I wasn't an English person". Her dedication not only made me a better writer but a better student. I will always remember her kind heart. We had class on 9/11 at 1pm. By this point in the day everyone was starting to realize how serious the day was becoming. Professor Rupprecht showed up to class with cookies and soda saying "Well, I don't know what to do in a situation like this, so I thought food might help.". Hamilton is the amazing institution that it is because of professors like Carol Rupprecht.

Liz Ransom '04

 Carol Rupprecht was my first and best English professor at Hamilton. She was tough, but also so encouraging that I wanted to excel for her. She gently culled my superfluous adjectives and adverbs, and guided me to better prose and analysis of poetic texts. I still have and cherish my papers from her class. My favorite, because she liked the title so much, was on Paradise Lost. "Escape from Eden: A Paradise Within" Rest well, gentle, kind and demanding professor. You are missed.

-Tim Carney, '78.

My heart goes out to her and her family. I have only taken one course from Professor Rupprecht while at Hamilton, but it had the most enduring impact in my intellectual and academic pursuits. Towards the end of the course she sent me an email which is still embedded in my memory to this day - her letter was so touching and encouraging that I have been planning to get in touch with her again. Unfortunately, it would not happen.

- Jennifer Park

What sad news. Prof. Rupprecht was one of my favorite teachers for any course ever. Her courses, which caused me to minor in comparative literature, had a way of permanently and profoundly altering the way I approach literature to this day. She will be sorely missed.

- Dean Bottino '91

I was never able to take a class with Carol, but she played a big part in my Hamilton experience nonetheless. She was a guest speaker in a literature class I took and spoke about dream theory. After the class, I ended up emailing back and forth with her about my own crazy dreams. There was one nightmare that was stuck in my mind and bothering me and she suggested that I use that energy and put it into a piece of music, since I was a music major. I hopped on my computer and did just that and when I was finished composing, the heavy weight of the nightmare was gone.

- E. Foley '01

It was the first year of full-coeducation, and I had the great good fortune to have Carol as my adviser. She encouraged me to take her own Intro to Comp Lit course, and I remember how she turned us all onto the Gilgamesh which seemed to hold the key to the meaning of life itself. We had classes outside under trees just like the pictures in the brochures. Carol was so earthy and intellectual--the archetypal liberal arts college professor. I was not a conventional Hamilton guy, and Carol steered me towards courses (art, philosophy, sociology) that would be a good fit for me. I became enamored by Kirkland College lore, and I bought one of the last Kirkland T-shirts left in the bookstore. When I wore it into a meeting with Carol one day, she said to me with pure delight, "You are the last of the Kirkies." It was such a compliment. Carol was my "gateway drug" to the Comp Lit department and she encouraged me to take courses with Nancy and Peter Rabinowitz, which were highlights of my time at Hamilton. Although I majored in sociology, I felt like the Comp Lit department was my spiritual home. Even when she was no longer my advisor, I always felt like Carol was my guardian angel on the Hill.

- Dan Shaw '82

What I remember most about Carol Rupprecht was that she was always smiling: whether she was walking into a class preparing to teach, talking animatedly with her colleagues in McEwen, or sitting at her desk in Root Hall during office hours. I also remember that she made the most perceptive comments on my papers, that I ever received on the undergraduate or graduate level. One in particular (about my combination of intellect and emotion) still resonates strongly with me because it is an observation that comes up regularly with those I am closest to, and one that accurately characterizes my chosen career path. My deepest condolences to her husband, Peter Suttmeier, another favorite professor of mine at Hamilton.

- Pamela Fanning

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