CAS Mourns the Loss of Marjorie Perloff, Leading Scholar of Contemporary Poetry

Perloff, who was a renowned scholar of 20th-century and contemporary poetry, has died at the age of 92

Marjorie Perloff, Professor Emeritus of English at Stanford University, died on March 24th, 2024 at her home in Los Angeles. She was 92. 

Perloff, who was born in Vienna in 1931, fled Austria with her parents two days after the Nazis annexed Austria in 1938. She graduated from Barnard College with a degree in English, later receiving her M.A. and Ph.D. from Catholic University in Washington D.C. Perloff taught at various institutions, including the University of Maryland, the University of Southern California, and ultimately: at Stanford University where she spent the latter half of her career in the Department of English. 

A scholar of English literature, Perloff published widely throughout her career on the works of Frank O'Hara, Gertrude Stein, Samuel Beckett, and many others. Her vast knowledge of 20th century (especially postwar) literature was often unparalleled due to her knowledge of several languages, including her native German. German-language topics played a prominent role in more recent decades. Perloff's 2004 memoir, The Vienna Paradox, focused on her childhood in interwar Austria, and her later works included The Edge of Irony: Modernism in the Shadow of the Habsburg Empire (University of Chicago Press) as well as Ludwig Wittgenstein's private notebooks, published in 2022 with Liveright. 

Perloff's many other works of scholarship include important interventions on Russian Futurism as well as European and American avant-garde movements more broadly. Perloff's other publications are too numerous to list, but include works such as Radical Artifice: Writing Poetry in the Age of Media (1994), Unoriginal Genius: Poetry by Other Means in the New Century (2010). 

Perloff's scholarly legacy will be felt for generations due to this prolific and outsized body of work. 

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