May 12, 2011 - Claremont, Calif. -
The Harvey Mudd College community was saddened to learn of the death this week of professor of literature emerita J’nan Morse Sellery.
Sellery arrived at HMC in 1970 and was a faculty member until her retirement in 2005. In addition to her love of English she pioneered HMC’s Media Studies program that began as a facility for student-made, multi-screen image and sound projections that inspired critical thinking and creative expression.
Sellery became the first tenured female professor in 1980 and is credited with mentoring many female faculty and students. She was coordinator of The Claremont Colleges Intercollegiate Women’s Studies Program and was chair for one year of the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences. Jeffrey Groves, professor of literature and former grad student of Sellery’s, called her a leader in bringing out the inventiveness in students with her creative writing courses and with Media Studio, which she launched and taught for 29 years. In a 2005 HMC Bulletin article, she said it was difficult to bring Media Studio to HMC because of the non-technical nature of the course, in which students developed a six-projector multi-image program. But it paid off, Sellery said, because it allowed students to think “off the page and around the corner.” The course, now entirely digital, is taught by Rachel Mayeri, associate professor of media studies.
Sellery was also a driving force behind the development of the Women's Studies Program at The Claremont Colleges and served as its coordinator. She presented at meetings around the world on literature and women’s studies topics. She served on the editorial board and was senior editor of Psychological Perspectives, an international journal of analytical psychology.
For several years, Sellery worked at the research affiliate Institute for Research on Women and Gender at Stanford University. There she worked on the “Gendered Voices” of Western Canadian writers Aritha van Herk and Robert Kroetsch. She received B.A., M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in British and American literature from the University of California at Riverside.
Media Contact: Judy Augsburger