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Marilyn Schuster

Andrew W. Mellon Professor Emerita in the Humanities (Study of Women & Gender) and Provost and Dean of the Faculty Emerita


Schuster received her bachelor of arts from Mills College in French and her master of philosophy and doctoral degrees in French language and literature from Yale University.

Her primary teaching interests were in 20th- and 21st-century women’s literature, feminist theory, lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender studies and queer theory. When she came to Smith in 1971, Schuster was working on her doctoral dissertation on Arthur Rimbaud. By the time she completed it, she had shifted her research to women’s fiction of the past 100 years. At the urging of students, she started to develop courses in women’s literature and eventually in gender studies and queer studies.

Schuster’s research has focused on contemporary writers such as Jane Rule, Marguerite Duras and Monique Wittig. She has also worked in collaboration with Susan Van Dyne on curriculum transformation, the theory and practice of bringing scholarship from women’s studies and ethnic studies into the liberal arts curriculum and creating a more productive learning climate for women students and all students of color in the classroom. Her articles have appeared in the Harvard Educational Review, French Review, Nineteenth-Century French Studies, Feminist Studies, The Journal of Homosexuality and Canadian Literature. In 2017 Schuster published A Queer Love Story: The Letters of Jane Rule and Rick Bébout. Now living in Oakland, California, Schuster serves on the Mills College board of trustees and on the board of directors of the Left Coast Chamber Music Ensemble.

Selected Publications

A Queer Love Story: The Letters of Jane Rule and Rick Bébout (with foreword by Margaret Atwood), University of British Columbia Press,  2017.

Passionate Communities: Reading Lesbian Resistance in Jane Rule's Fiction. New York University Press, 1999. 

Marguerite Duras Revisited. Cengage Gale, 1993.

Co-edited, with Susan Van Dyne, and contributed to Women’s Place in the Academy: Transforming the Liberal Arts Curriculum. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Incorporated, 1985.



Ph.D., M.Phil., Yale University
B.A., Mills College