Michael "Timo" Gilmore dies at 72

Mar. 05, 2014

Michael 'Timo' Gilmore

Michael 'Timo' Gilmore

Our friend and colleague Michael T. Gilmore died on March 3, 2014, after a brief serious illness. Timo Gilmore came to Brandeis in 1974 after earning his Ph.D. at Harvard University. At Brandeis, he earned our department a national reputation in the study of American Literature, particularly in the literature and culture of the 19th century.

He was the author of eight books and dozens of articles in his years at Brandeis, beginning with The Middle Way: Puritanism and Ideology in American Literature in 1977. His scholarship paid particular attention to the relationship between literature and politics, and he brought to literary study the skills and learning of a historian and the deep political commitments that marked his sensibility from the beginning. His second book, American Literature and the Marketplace (1985), and the collection Rethinking Class: Literary Studies and Social Formations (1994) (which he edited with Wai-Chee Dimock) showed the tangled relationships among American authors, the literary market, and the economic world generally, and the engagement of American authors with issues of class difference and class struggle. Two later works, Differences in the Dark, American Movies and English Theater (1998) and Surface and Depth: The Quest for Legibility in American Culture (2003) treated how American politics and American economic history gave a distinctive cast to American works across genres and periods. His last book The War on Words: Slavery, Race and Free Speech in American Literature (2010) discussed how the struggle over slavery and race from the American Renaissance through the end of the Nineteenth Century was also a struggle over freedom of expression, with the urgent call for racial justice always contending with forces that would repress or divert criticism. At the time of his death he was hard at work on a study of literary radicalism in his beloved Cambridge.

Timo was famous as a generous, patient, and demanding graduate advisor, who helped many doctoral students find their way as they completed their dissertations. His lecture survey on American Literature of the nineteenth century was a “must take” course among Brandeis undergraduates, and his graduate seminars gave our graduate program its unique flavor. His students are teaching American Literature in ways shaped by his learning at colleges and Universities around the world. He was several times Chair of the English Department at Brandeis. And most of all, he was a wonderful colleague and a devoted friend to all of us in the English Department.     

Donations in Timo's memory, may be made to two funds. Learn more about the funds.