In Memoriam: Mutlu Blasing

In Memoriam: Mutlu Blasing, Professor Emerita of English, June 27, 1944 - August 16, 2021

Professor Mutlu Blasing received her Ph.D. in English from Brown University in 1974, after earning a B.A. degree in English at the College of William and Mary. She joined the Brown English Department faculty in 1977 after a postdoctoral fellowship at University of Massachusetts at Amherst and a teaching position at Pomona College. She then enjoyed a long, productive academic career at Brown. She was a highly regarded scholar of American literature and American poetry in particular.

Her major works include The Art of Life: Studies in Autobiographical Literature (University of Texas Press, 1977); American Poetry: The Rhetoric of its Forms (Yale University Pres, 1987); Politics and Form in Postmodern Poetry (Cambridge University Press, 1995); Lyric Poetry: The Pain and Pleasure of Words (Princeton University Press, 2007); and Nazim Hikmet: The Life and Times of Turkey’s War Poet (Persea, 2013).

In addition to her influential scholarship on modern and contemporary American poetry, Blasing also was the official translator of the Turkish poet Nazim Hikmet and helped make him a more visible literary figure in the Anglophone world. Her work as translator led to the publication of her biography of Nazim (as he is known), and has helped solidify his place in the canon of world literature.

During her decades-long career at Brown, Blasing has taught successfully in English and introduced hundreds of undergraduate students to a wide range of American poets, from New England colonial authors like Anne Bradstreet and Edward Taylor, to familiar 19th-century icons such as Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman, and moderns like Ezra Pound, T.S. Eliot, William Carlos Williams, and James Merrill. She was an especially beloved educator for those students who share her passion for poetry and poetics, and who have been further inspired by Blasing’s intellectual breadth, her vast knowledge of American poetic traditions, and her brilliant attention to language and form through close reading. She has also trained dozens of doctoral students in the Ph.D. program in English and directed or advised many dissertations of students proceeding to make their mark in the field. Throughout, she has set the highest intellectual standards for students in her classes, while training generations of future professionals in American literature.