Penn Arts & Sciences Logo

Roland Mushat Frye

2005

Dr. Roland Mushat Frye, Schelling Professor Emeritus of English Literature, died on January 13, at the age of 83.

Born in Birmingham, Alabama, Dr. Frye received three degrees, including his Ph.D,. from Princeton University. He served in the Army during World War II, fighting in the Battle of the Bulge—earning a Bronze Star for his service. After the War, he joined the faculty of Emory University in Atlanta and became a research professor in residence at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington. He returned to teaching in 1965, accepting a professorship at Penn. He became the Felix E. Schelling Professor of English Literature in 1978, a title which he retained when he became emeritus in 1983. He also cofounded the Center of Theological Inquiry, an independent, ecumenical institution for advanced theological research in Princeton in 1978.

Dr. Frye was the author of ten books and hundreds of scholarly articles. He wrote the award-winning book Milton’s Imagery and the Visual Arts: Iconographic Tradition in the Epic Poems, and Is God a Creationist: The Religious Case Against Creation-Science.

Dr. Frye—who received the Thomas Jefferson Medal for Distinguished Achievement in the Humanities in 1997 from the American Philosophical Society—was described by William Golden, then vice president of the Society as “a brilliant scholar of English literature from Shakespeare to Milton, who …interpreted the writings of important literary figures in the context of the human experience of their times.”

Some of the many honors Dr. Frye received include: a Guggenheim Fellowship at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Princeton; membership in the American Philosophical Society; an American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) grant; The John Frederick Lewis Prize of the American Philosophical Society; the Milton Society’s James Holly Hanford Award. He was a member of the Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 1980, Dr. Frye was named curator of the Furness Memorial Library at Penn.

He is survived by his wife of 58 years, Jean Elbert; son, Roland Jr., and grandson, Joseph. Memorial donations may be made to the Center for Theological Inquiry, Stockton St., Princeton, NJ 08540, or the American Philosophical Society, 104 South 5th St., Philadelphia, PA 19106.

 See Almanac January 25, 2005.

Doctoral Dissertations Chaired

1989

Hiroko Sano "'Conversation' and 'Softness': John Milton on Marriage and Women"

1987

Marsha Robinson "Shakespeare and the Rhetoric of History"

1972

H.F Lippincott, Jr. "Clowns and Fools of Renaissance England"
Leon E. Markowicz "The Role of Alberico Gentili, Regius Professor of Law at Oxford and the "Father of International Law," in the Elizabethan Stage Controversy "
Christine W Sizemore "The Literary Artistry of John Bunyan's The Holy War"

1971

Barbara F Lynch "Shakespeare's Comic Plots and the Nature of Man: A Study of the Relationship Between the Romantic and the Low Life Plots in Light of Man's Unique Position in the Great Chain of Being"
William F Lynch "Change and Stasis in the Two Gentlemen of Verona"

1970

Thomas E Scheye "Shakespeare's Comic World: Patterns of Self-Discovery in the First Four Comedies"