Beverly “Bev” Clark, 72, a longtime professor of English at Wheaton, passed away on March 18.
Professor Clark taught at Wheaton for 44 years and was loved and respected by generations of faculty, students and staff. She was a member of Phi Beta Kappa, the founder of the peer tutoring program at Wheaton, a tireless book reviewer, a dedicated student-faculty research partner and a prolific scholar.
“Bev was a beloved colleague, mentor, leader and friend, but most of all, she was a great teacher whose dedication to her students was unparalleled,” said Provost Renée White. “Bev enriched the lives of all those she encountered.”
Samuel Coale, professor of English, described Professor Clark as one of the best chairs his department has ever had.
“She knew her facts, strategies and tactics, and her enthusiasm erupted with her discussions of children’s literature—she had so much to do with it actually becoming a recognized academic field,” he said.
Claire Buck, professor of English, added, “Bev concentrated her entire being on the growth of those around her, encouraging and inspiring us to become our best selves as writers, scholars, artists, mentors, feminists and teachers. This is how lasting change is made.”
Professor Clark was the author of 13 scholarly books on children’s literature. These works include Kiddie Lit: The Cultural Construction of Children’s Literature in America, The Afterlife of Little Women and Regendering the School Story. She co-edited Little Women and the Feminist Imagination and Girls, Boys, Books, Toys: Gender in Children’s Literature and Culture.
Her work also has appeared in numerous journals, including Studies in Popular Culture, Contemporary Literature, College Composition and Communication, Children’s Literature Association Quarterly and American Literature.
Professor Clark graduated from Swarthmore College in 1970 and served in the Fiji Islands as a Peace Corps volunteer from 1971 to 1974. She received her Ph.D. in English literature from Brown University in 1979.
As a hobby, she collected Little Women memorabilia, from scarfs featuring June Allyson and Elizabeth Taylor to paper dolls, coloring books and editions in many different languages. In January, she donated much of her personal children’s book collection to Wheaton’s archives and special collections.