Bryn Mawr Mourns Passing of Professor Emeritus of French Mario Maurin

Posted September 25th, 2014 at 11:57 am.

The following email was sent to faculty, students, and staff by President Kim Cassidy on Monday, Sept. 22.

Dear Faculty, Students and Staff,

I write with the sad news that Mario Maurin, Eunice Morgan Schenck 1907 Professor Emeritus of French, passed away on Saturday, Sept. 20, after a long battle with cancer.  I hope you will join me in extending condolences to Mario’s wife Professor Penny Armstrong, the members of the French and Francophone Studies Department and all members of the community who had the pleasure to know Mario.

Professor Maurin received his BA, MA and PhD from Yale University, a noteworthy accomplishment for a young man of 22 years of age.  He came to Bryn Mawr in 1953 as an Assistant Professor and was successively named Associate Professor in 1959 and Full Professor in 1965.  In 1979 he was appointed Eunice Morgan Schenck 1907 Professor of French, a position he held until his retirement in 2000.

During his tenure at Bryn Mawr, Mario served on the Admissions Committee and Curriculum Committee, as chair of his department for 11 consecutive years and directed numerous master’s theses and doctoral dissertations.  He also taught for many years at the Institut d’Études françaises d’Avignon and as a visiting professor at Haverford College, the University of Pennsylvania and Johns Hopkins University.

Mario’s teaching included a wide range of courses on nineteenth and twentieth century poetry and fiction and was informed by his own poetry.  His scholarship includes early work on André Suarès, books on Giacomo Leopardi and Henri de Régnier and the publication of his last book, Henri Peyre: His Life in Letters, in 2005, several years after his retirement from the College.  Mario also wrote countless editorial articles in Spanish that were published in both Latin American and South American newspapers.  During his career, he won recognition from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Académie française and the French government, which named him a Chevalier de l’Ordre des Palmes Académiques in 1976.

Recently, Professor Armstrong shared Mario’s personal history and its intersection with his professional work.  He first came to the U.S. in 1941 with his mother and maternal uncle, a founder of the French Communist party who turned anti-Stalinist and was brought with his extended family from France under a program of the Roosevelt administration to save European intellectuals from Nazi persecution.

Mario’s father Joaquin Maurin, one of the founders of POUM, the Spanish Socialist party, remained in prison in Spain while his parents hid in the back rooms of the local mayor’s home in Crest, France to survive the war.  While a political prisoner, Joaquin Maurin wrote two books, which Mario edited and published as May-Miau! in 1999.  In addition, when Mario fell ill he was editing the correspondence between his politically active mother and his uncle and father.

President Emeritus Pat McPherson recalls Mario as “one in a line of excellent faculty who came to Bryn Mawr from the graduate program at Yale, who joined together at Bryn Mawr to form one of the best French departments in the country.” She continues, “He was enormously supportive of the College, its graduate programs, and its research interests.”

Mario’s former student Kathryn Crecelius ’73 said, “Mario Maurin epitomized Bryn Mawr’s commitment to teaching and scholarship; he was not just a professor, he was a mentor.”

Upon his retirement, Nancy Vickers, President Emeritus, described Mario as “an astute scholar of literature, a gifted translator of Richard Wilbur and Philip Larkin, and a poet in his own right.”  She also credits the depth and quality of the French holdings in our library to Mario’s discriminating judgment.

Mario is survived by his wife Penny Armstrong, his daughter Elana Maurin and her husband Keith and two grandchildren.  The family plans to have a memorial service at the College at a later date.


Sincerely yours,

Kim Cassidy

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