There are those scholars whose work engages us on a professional and pedagogical level, who we can depend upon to provide consistently excellent schlarship, and who we come to recognize through their level of engagement with the text as experts in their field. Such a scholar was Richard Maxwell, who passed away this July. I never met Professor Maxwell save through his books and articles but I was deeply shocked when I learned about his death this morning. My heart goes out to his friends and family in this difficult time.
In her message to the NASSR listserv, Deidre Lynch noted that Professor Maxwell continued to write in the last year of his life, dictating several essays and even a novel. It made me think about the nature of scholarship, and how I think all writers on some level would like to think that they too will “Produce! Produce!” in Carlyle’s words their whole life. And yet how often do we students claim to dread writing, to despise those hours in front of the computer when nothing comes out? Perhaps when we take a moment to reflect upon Professor Maxwell’s life, we should also remember the passion he had for his field and work to reinvigorate our writing with the same level of energy.