Carl Viggiani, professor of romance languages and literatures, emeritus, died suddenly on Jan. 16, 2010. He was 87 years old. He joined the Wesleyan faculty in 1954, teaching French language and literature. He was active in the Center for the Humanities in its early years, offered numerous colloquia for the College of Letters, founded the Wesleyan program in Paris which he directed or served as resident director in Paris over seven and a half years, and served frequently as chair of the Romance Languages and Literatures Department.
Viggiani earned his bachelor’s degree from Columbia College, master’s degree from Harvard University, and his Ph.D. in French Literature of the 19th century from Columbia University. He was awarded numerous honors, including Fulbright and Guggenheim fellowships. He served as managing editor of Romanic Review for 10 years, translated works by Camus and Maupassant, co-edited the book, Witnessing André Malraux: Visions and Revisions, and he wrote or presented more than 30 academic papers, articles and reviews.
“Carl Viggiani was a gentle, humane and extremely knowledgeable man. He was constantly in dialogue with ancient and new ideas,” says former colleague Joyce Lowrie, professor of romance languages and literatures, emerita. “He had a marvelous sense of language and of humor that served his colleagues, his students and the university in the highest degree possible.”
Catherine Poisson, associate professor and chair of the Romance Languages and Literatures Department, told her departmental colleagues, “I know that, with me, you will remember Carl as an immensely generous person. Un ‘juste’, as Camus would have said.” Jeff Rider, professor of romance languages and literatures, followed on that thought, saying, “since Carl was a friend of Camus and a Camus scholar, I think he would have liked that epitaph.”
Viggiani taught at Wesleyan for 37 years before retiring in 1991. A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 20, 2010 in the Russell House.