Arden Reed, Arthur M. Doyle and Fanny M. Doyle Professor of English, passed away at home on Dec. 20 from an aggressive form of cancer.
Arden was a boundary-crossing scholar, an expert on 19th-century English and French literature and visual art, including contemporary visual culture. His most recent work, which he worked on for a dozen years and published this past summer, was Slow Art: The Experience of Looking, Sacred Images to James Turrell.
Covering works from the Middle Ages to the present, Slow Art calls on everyday museum visitors to contemplate artwork and trust that their novice observations are just as meaningful as those of art experts. The Wall Street Journal called Arden “an enormously erudite writer,” and his book, “a lively ramble through high and low culture.”
In 2006, Arden received a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship, which he used to pursue research on tableaux vivants, the old parlor game in which participants imitate famous works of art. The research helped raise the deep questions that would animate Slow Art.
Arden’s research covered the spectrum of English Romantic literature; 19th-century French painting and literature; modernism across the arts; relationships between painting and literature, or image and text; contemporary art; and tableaux vivants.
His past work includes Manet: Art, Words, Music (2014), Manet, Flaubert, and the Emergence of Modernism: Blurring Genre Boundaries (2003), Constance De Jong: Metal (2003) and Romantic Weather: The Climates of Coleridge and Baudelaire (1984). He was the editor of Romanticism and Language: A Collection of Critical Essays (1984) and had several articles published in Art in America. In 1983, he was awarded a First Book Prize from Brown University Press for Romantic Meteorology: The Climates of Coleridge and Baudelaire.
In addition to the Guggenheim Fellowship, Arden’s distinguished awards and honors include a Bellagio Study Center Residency in 2007 by the Rockefeller Foundation; he was a visiting scholar at the American Academy in Rome in 2007; a Bogliasco Foundation Fellow at the Centro Studi Ligure per le Arti et le Lettere in 2007; and a fellow at the Clark Art Institute in 2006.
Under the aegis of The Camargo Foundation, he served as a research fellow in Cassis, France from 1994 to 1995, and under the auspices of The Albert & Elaine Borchard Foundation, he was a scholar in residence at Château de la Bretesche, in Missillac, France from 1990 to 1991. Through an award from the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities, he was a fellow at the University of Edinburgh, among other honors.
Arden joined Pomona College as an assistant professor in 1979, and was named the Arthur M. Dole and Fanny M. Dole Professor in English in 2004. Before Pomona, he was an assistant professor at Wayne State University and a lecturer at The Johns Hopkins University.
Arden earned his bachelor of arts from Wesleyan University, and his master’s and doctoral degree in comparative literature from The Johns Hopkins University.
The theme of art and attentiveness was a continual focus of his work. As Arden encouraged an international conversation on “slow art,” his students here in Claremont took his message to heart.
As one student wrote reflecting on Arden’s Literary Interpretation class, “Your class pushed me as a reader to think critically about every word chosen. … I learned to slow down, to pay attention to the words on the page, to the ways in which a text was begging to be read. … I utilized office hours more than I have in any other class. This was an incredibly rewarding experience.”
Memorial services will be held in Claremont and Santa Fe, New Mexico. We will provide additional information when it becomes available.