PROFESSOR OF FRENCH
SEPT 1950 - 4 APRIL 2023
It is with heavy hearts that we share news that our colleague, Dr. Robert (Bob) Clark, passed away on Tuesday, April 4, 2023. Bob was finishing up his final semester of teaching before his retirement this May, after 30 years at K-State. He was teaching a French seminar on France during the World War II German occupation, Occupied France.
Bob enjoying a birthday cake in Eisenhower Hall.
Bob was hired in 1992 as an Assistant Professor in French in the Modern Languages Department. He was tenured and promoted to Associate Professor in 1998 and promoted to Professor in 2013. His frequent travel to France and his research in Medieval French literature and culture enriched his teaching on a wide variety of subjects, including French language, literature, culture, and cinema.
Bob was born and raised in Oberlin, Ohio, graduating from Oberlin High School in 1969. After high school, he attended Carleton College, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1973 after which he attended Indiana University, earning his Master’s degree in 1976 and his Doctorate with an emphasis on French medieval literature and medieval studies in 1994. He also earned an advanced degree in Provençal Language and Literature from the University of Paris IV (Sorbonne) in 1985.
Bob in Paris
During his 30 years at K-State, Bob taught a range of classes in French language, literature, and culture, and frequently offered a freshman seminar on memoirs and memory of the Shoah. He took students to Paris for ten years and expanded the offerings of the French program by creating courses on Contemporary France, History of French Culture, and French cinema. Bob especially enjoyed teaching seminars in his field of research expertise: medieval French literature, and he frequently taught a first-year seminar for students at K-State.
Bob with K-State students studying abroad in France.
Bob also had an extensive record of service to the department and the university, serving for one semester as interim chair as well as being a representative to Faculty Senate and the College Committee for many years. He was active in the K-State chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, and he also served as the Director of International & Area Studies at K-State. He was especially proud of his successful proposal for the creation of non-tenure track positions at the university. Bob was also active in learned societies, particularly the Medieval and Renaissance Society of North America, of which he was president for two years.
Bob with his first-year seminar after they read The Cost of Courage.
Bob had an impressive record of research and publication in medieval French studies, including many articles and conference presentations and an edited collection, Medieval Conduct, co-edited with Kathleen Ashley. Ashley writes about Bob: “I have valued knowing Bob as both a friend and medieval collaborator throughout the past nearly 40 years”. “Beyond his primary specialization in medieval performance he wrote and taught about a wide range of subjects including gender theory, music, film, and Mediterranean studies. He and I collaborated in organizing sessions on the topic of medieval conduct texts at five Kalamazoo conferences and then edited an explicitly theorized collection on conduct literature, Medieval Conduct (Minnesota, 2001).”
Bob representing International & Area Studies at the annual K-State Open House
Outside of work, Bob enjoyed doing research and traveling in France. He enjoyed singing, opera (on which he also published), and spending time with his family.
Bob’s colleagues describe him as hard-working, generous, and very dedicated to serving the French section, the Department of Modern Languages, the College of Arts & Sciences, and the University. He was especially dedicated to his many students at the Bachelor’s and Master’s level. Moreover, he was an active and engaged member of the community, participating in the Masterworks Chorale and Kansas State University Collegium Musicum.
A memorial service will be held at First Presbyterian Church in Manhattan, KS, on Saturday, May 20, 2023 at 2:00pm.
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