Sunday, July 3, 2016

Nicholas Birns just wrote to me that Phyllis Edelson, a founding member of AAALS, has died. Among her many contributions to the viability of the early group, Phyllis did all the paperwork and filing to have AAALS incorporated as a non-profit in New York--anyone who has served in a professional association knows how difficult that process is, and how important. She was also very funny, and socially adept--skill sets not always abundant among academics.

Here is what Nick sent:

Phyllis Fahrie Edelson died yesterday. She was a leading figure in the AAALS and in Australian studies in North America. The founding reviews editor of Antipodes, she compiled an anthology of Australian literature that was widely used worldwide. Phyllis was an enthusiastic lover of the arts--visual arts and the opera as well as writing--but had high standards and believed one should not have to like everything. She was like this with people as well--a good friend and a keen arbiter of personal quality but tough as nails when it came to those she disdained. Phyllis studied at CUNY under Irving Howe and taught for many years at Pace University. I kept in touch with her for many years, and went to a couple of parties at her house in Chappaqua (right near the Clintons!) but last saw her in 2004. She was a major part of Australian studies here and will be much missed.

Nicholas Birns 

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