Carol Peirce, 83, professor of English at UB

September 05, 2005|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

Carol Peirce, a retired University of Baltimore English professor who wrote extensively about the novelist Lawrence Durrell, died of pneumonia related to cancer Wednesday at Greater Baltimore Medical Center. The Cockeysville resident was 83.

Born Emily Williams in St. Louis, she later changed her name to Carol Marshall and earned an English degree at Radcliffe College in Cambridge, Mass. She earned a doctorate from Harvard University and wrote her dissertation on the literature of the Renaissance. She taught briefly at Radcliffe and at Cedar Crest College in Allentown, Pa.

In 1951, while at Harvard, she met and married Brooke Peirce, who became a Goucher College literature professor. He died in 2003.

She initially worked in Goucher's admissions office after settling in Baltimore in 1954. In 1968, she accepted a teaching position at the University of Baltimore.

"I studied British literature with her during her first year of teaching at Baltimore," said Dr. L. Wayne Markert, provost of Hollins University in Roanoke, Va. "I was transformed by that experience. She was animated in the classroom, vibrant, and had a way of drawing her students into the work."

Friends at the University of Baltimore said she was a visionary - she embraced modern technology as a method of communication - and she helped expand the English department's traditional courses into those that included technical and creative writing, graphic and Web design and video. She also worked for the establishment of a University of Baltimore master's degree program in publications design and a bachelor of science in corporate communication.

"She was not limited to the study of literature as a pure activity," Dr. Markert said.

She was a specialist in modern British fiction and often taught the works of D.H. Lawrence and John Fowles. She was also recalled for her love of Shakespeare.

"She was a brilliant Shakespeare teacher. She knew the material inside and out. She'd seen scores of performances and she made the theme in his plays come alive," said Dr. John M. Rose, a family friend and Goucher College professor of philosophy. "She had a highly organized mind and was an incredible combination of being tender and tough."

She was the co-founder and first president of the International Lawrence Durrell Society, a scholarly group whose members study the work of the novelist who wrote The Alexandria Quartet. She was the co-editor of Deus Loci: The Lawrence Durrell Journal. She visited the novelist at his home in Avignon, France, and brought him to the United States in 1980 for a conference.

At her death, she was president of the Edgar Allan Poe Society, whose annual meetings are held at the Enoch Pratt Free Library.

She retired from the University of Baltimore in 2003.

A memorial service will be held at 3 p.m. Oct. 29 at Haebler Memorial Chapel on the Goucher College campus, 1021 Dulaney Valley Road, Towson.

Survivors include a nephew, Lawrence Pierce of Northampton, Mass.; and a niece, Brooke P. Heraty of Boston.

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