Notice of Online Archive

  • This page is no longer being updated and remains online for informational and historical purposes only. The information is accurate as of the last page update.

    For questions about page contents, contact the Communications Division.

James P. Lusardi ’55, Francis A. March Professor Emeritus of English, died Sunday, Nov. 10, at Easton Hospital. He was 71.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday, November 17, in Colton Chapel. Interment will be in Easton Cemetary. Ashton Funeral Home, Easton, is in charge of arrangements.

He is survived by his wife, Marcia Staats Lusardi, to whom he was married 49 years in August; daughters C. Lynn Williams of Williamsport, Pa., and Jill M. Hahn of East Stroudsburg, Pa.; four grandchildren, and a niece.

Lusardi inspired Lafayette students for more than 30 years with his teaching of Shakespeare, Milton, Renaissance literature, and theater. He also taught the broad spectrum of English and American literature from Beowulf to the present.

He joined the Lafayette faculty as associate professor in 1966. He received tenure as associate professor in 1969 and was promoted to full professor in 1986. In 1990, he was named Francis A. March Professor. Upon his retirement in 1998 he was named professor emeritus.

Lusardi’s special interest was in plays in performance. During the last two decades he saw dozens of plays a year in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom, about half of them written by Shakespeare or his contemporaries. Lusardi also studied theater history, particularly the design and structure of early English theaters. Because of this expertise, he was chosen to be an academic adviser for the reconstruction of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London, which opened in June 1997.

He published many articles on Shakespeare and many reviews of plays in production. He also participated in numerous seminars on Shakespearean topics and received grants from American Council of Learned Societies, American Philosophical Society, Wesleyan University, and Lafayette. He was coauthor of Reading Shakespeare in Performance: King Lear and coeditor of The Yale Edition of the Complete Works of St. Thomas More.

Since 1984, he was coeditor, with June Schlueter, Lafayette’s provost and Dana Professor of English, of Shakespeare Bulletin, an international journal of performance criticism and scholarship published at Lafayette and read around the world. From 1982-84 Lusardi and Schlueter were associate editors of the journal.

Lusardi was a classmate of Arthur J. Rothkopf ’55, president of Lafayette.

“We were both English majors and we were very close as students,” said Rothkopf. “When I returned to Lafayette in my current job, it was wonderful to have someone who contributed so much to Lafayette. He was an extraordinary scholar, teacher, and leader of the faculty. We really will miss him very much for his oratorical skills, common sense, and leadership.”

The novelist, poet, and biographer Jay Parini is one of many Lafayette alumni who considered Lusardi a cherished mentor. A 1970 graduate who is now a professor of English at Middlebury College, Parini, wrote in The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Jim could not stop teaching, and I felt immensely privileged to be in his company. It was apparent he cared passionately about what he was doing. Poetry and drama played a huge role in his own emotional and intellectual life. He taught me how to use literature; that is, how to let one’s heart be instructed by a text.”

Lusardi was coordinator of a faculty development summer seminar in 1980 that resulted in a new course, “Darwinism: An Interdisciplinary Inquiry.” In 1982 he served as chairman of the Lafayette task force for implementing a new bachelor of arts curriculum. He participated in two seminars sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities: in 1985 as director of the Commonwealth Partnership Literature Institute for Secondary School Teachers and in 1988 as codirector of Teaching Shakespeare in Performance for Secondary School Teachers.

Lusardi received numerous academic honors including Associate Fellow, Columbia University. In 1968, he received Lafayette’s Thomas Roy and Lura Forrest Jones Faculty Lecture Award in recognition of superior teaching and scholarship. A member of Phi Beta Kappa, he was a national senator of the society and served two terms as president of the Middle-Atlantic District of Phi Beta Kappa, from 1982-88.

Born Sept. 3, 1931, Lusardi was a native of Madison, N.J., and a graduate of Madison High School. He served in the U.S. Air Force from February 1951 until October 1952. He received a bachelor of arts degree from Lafayette in 1955 and master’s and doctoral degrees in English language and literature from Yale University in 1957 and 1963, respectively. Before joining the Lafayette faculty he was instructor of English at Williams College from 1958-1961, assistant in instruction at Yale from 1961-62, and assistant professor of English at Wesleyan University from 1962-66.

Lusardi was a member of the Modern Language Association, College English Association, Shakespeare Association of America, International Shakespeare Association, and Samuel Beckett Society. He was also on the executive board of Columbia University Shakespeare Seminar.

Contributions may be sent to the James P. ’55 and Marcia S. Lusardi Scholarship Fund at Lafayette or to a cancer organization of choice.

Categorized in: Alumni Profiles