Koerner fellow Geoffrey Hartman, Sterling Professor Emeritus & Senior Research Scholar of English and Comparative Literature, died on March 14. The renowned literary scholar played a major role in establishing Yale’s Judaic Studies Program and was co-founder of the Fortunoff Video Archives for Holocaust Testimonies at Yale.
Born in Frankfurt, Germany in 1929, Geoffrey Hartman was placed on a Kindertransport to England in 1939. He spent the war years on the estate of James Rothschild in Waddeston with nineteen other boys. Reunited with his mother in the United States in 1945, he attended Queens College and earned his Ph.D. at Yale where he taught for almost forty years before retiring. Professor Hartman became acquainted with the Holocaust Survivors Film Project through his wife’s participation and recognized the research and educational value of the testimonies. With the support of Yale’s president, A. Bartlett Giamatti, almost 200 testimonies were deposited at the Sterling Memorial Library in 1981. As faculty advisor and project director to the Fortunoff Video Archive, Professor Hartman was actively involved in its growth and wrote extensively about the Archive and its work.
Hartman was an expert on rhetoric, literary theory, and holocaust history. A proponent of post-structuralist and deconstructive critical practice, Hartman is known for his books and essays on romanticism, literary interpretation and theory, philosophy and psychoanalysis.