Professor David Latané to Retire

May 6, 2021

Headshot of David LatanéAfter thirty-seven years of service, Professor of English David E. Latané will retire from VCU effective September 1. While we are, of course, thrilled for David and the opportunities available in the next stage of his life, the department will miss his leadership and institutional memory, his dedicated teaching in a range of subjects, his knowledge of nineteenth-century print culture, and his wry sense of humor and avid appreciation of European football.

After earning his Ph.D. at Duke University, David joined the Department as an Assistant Professor of English in 1984 as a specialist in Romantic and Victorian literature. He taught literally dozens of different graduate and undergraduate courses. He had the facility to teach specialized courses on nineteenth-century authors—Wordsworth, Dickens, the Shelleys and the Brownings—as well as the foundational survey courses across multiple periods—writers of the Romantic era, Victorian poetry, and twentieth-century British literature (he was even known, early on, to have dipped back to the eighteenth century, teaching the now long-retired course “Age of Dryden and Pope”). From the beginning, he was also a central figure in the planning and teaching of the MATX doctoral program and directed our minor in British Studies.

He demonstrated similar versatility in his research activities. He published two monographs, most recently William Maginn and the British Press, 1794-1842 which was the Co-Winner of the Robert and Vineta Colby Scholarly Book Prize for 2013. The author of more than thirty articles and book chapters, and dozens of book reviews and articles in reference works, David also made significant editorial contributions. He has been, since 1996, the Associate Editor for North America for Stand Magazine (UK), a fixture on the British contemporary literary scene since 1952. He served as Editor in Chief of the Victorians Institute Journal from 1999-2009. A former Fulbright, David has also been funded by the NEH and was a participant in the first NINES workshop, led by Jerome McGann, which was of the earliest digital research projects in the humanities, designed to create, gather, and make available digital scholarship and resources in nineteenth-century studies.

His active work as a teacher and scholar extended to his exemplary service contributions that helped shape the department in fundamental ways. As Associate Chair for nearly ten years, and then as Chair, his work was foundational to the smooth operations of our department; he was a fierce advocate with the upper administration, using his ability to marshal evidence and create persuasive spreadsheets to make strategic requests. His contributions extended beyond formal administrative roles, however. He served on nineteen tenure and promotion committees (chairing more than half of them), eighteen search committees, and dozens of committees at the departmental, college, and university levels. Perhaps most importantly, he has always been a good-humored and generous colleague who mentored faculty, shared his research acumen (and books), and helped create the climate of collegiality for which this department is known.

We have all benefited tremendously from David’s work over the years and we wish David all good fortune.

If you would like to reach out to offer congratulations and well-wishes to David, you can reach him by email at dlatane@vcu.edu.