Ruth Yeazell named as Sterling Professor of English

Professor Ruth Bernard Yeazell
Ruth Yeazell (photo by Michael Marsland)

Ruth Bernard Yeazell, newly named as Sterling Professor of English, focuses her research on the novel from the 18th to the 20th centuries, the history of gender and sexuality, and the relations of literature to the visual arts.

The Sterling Professorship is the highest honor bestowed on Yale faculty.

As a teacher and critic, Yeazell is concerned with the way works of art both respond to and transform their culture. She writes on a variety of literary and other topics for a wider public in the New York Review of Books, the London Review of Books, and elsewhere. Among her recent books is “Art of the Everyday,” which concerns 17th-century Dutch painting as a model for literary realism and includes chapters on Balzac, George Eliot, Hardy, and Proust. “Picture Titles: How and Why Western Paintings Acquired Their Names” explores how the naming of pictures has shaped their reception from the Renaissance to the present day.

A graduate of Swarthmore College, Yeazell earned an M.Phil. (1970) and a Ph.D. (1971) in English literature from Yale. She held faculty positions at Boston University and the University of California-Los Angeles, before joining the Yale faculty in 1991 as professor of English. Prior to her new appointment, Yeazell served as the Chace Family Professor of English.

Yeazell’s other books include “Harems of the Mind: Passages of Western Art and Literature” and “Fictions of Modesty: Women and Courtship in the English Novel.” She has contributed numerous articles, chapters, and reviews to edited volumes and journals. Yeazell, who began her career as a scholar of Henry James and his sister Alice, serves on the advisory board for “The Complete Fiction of Henry James” (Cambridge University Press) and was the founder of the Lewis Walpole Library Series in 18th-Century History and Culture (Yale University Press).

The Yale professor is the recipient of fellowships from the Rockefeller Foundation, the National Humanities Center, and the Guggenheim Foundation, among other institutions. She was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2009 and has been an invited lecturer at numerous conferences in the United States, Canada, Italy, and England.