The Modern Language Association mourns the passing of Robert Scholes, former MLA president and Andrew W. Mellon Professor of the Humanities Emeritus at Brown University.
A founder of Brown’s semiotics program, now the Department of Modern Culture and Media, Scholes was a leading figure in the fields of semiotics and structuralism. In 1966, he and Robert Kellogg published The Nature of Narrative, regarded as a classic of literary studies. A veteran of the Korean War, Scholes taught at the University of Virginia and the University of Iowa before moving to Brown, where he taught from 1970 to 1999. His scholarship and teaching touched on a wide array of literary genres, from the works of canonical modern authors like Joyce and Hemingway to science fiction and comic writing. His many publications include Textual Power, which was awarded the MLA’s Mina P. Shaughnessy Prize in 1986; The Rise and Fall of English; and Fabulation and Metafiction.
Scholes received the ADE’s Francis Andrew March Award, given for distinguished service to the profession of English at the postsecondary level, in 2000 and served as president of the MLA in 2004. He also served as president of the Semiotic Society of America and was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1998.