In Memoriam: Naomi Wulf, 1964-2012

Naomi Wulf’s many American friends were deeply saddened to learn of her death on April 17, 2012, after her courageous, decade-long struggle with cancer. Naomi was a key figure in the American Studies community in France and throughout Europe. Born in 1964 of mixed Franco-American parentage, Naomi promoted a broader and deeper understanding of her two countries through her scholarship and her warm personal connections with fellow scholars.

Naomi completed her PhD. under the mentorship of the distinguished Americanist Elise Marienstras at Université Paris Diderot-Paris 7 and first taught at Paris-12, now the Université Paris-Est Créteil; in 2007, she was named professor of American History at the Universit? Sorbonne Nouvelle-Paris 3. At the time of her death Naomi was revising her prize-winning doctoral dissertation for publication as a book, “Democracy in America”: Orestes Brownson, American Critic of Jacksonian America. Naomi was convinced that this brilliant and eccentric preacher, social reformer and Catholic convert offered an illuminating counterpoint to Alexis de Tocqueville’s famous contemporaneous account of the new nation’s political culture in his classic Democracy in America. Naomi worked on her project for many years, exploring Brownson’s Jeffersonian roots as a fellow at the Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies (Monticello) in the Fall of 2010.

Naomi had a genius for collaboration and conference-organizing. Co-author of two monographs with her mentor Elise Marienstras, Naomi also edited volumes of conference proceedings and special issues of journals with Marienstras, Marie-Jeanne Rossignol, and Nathalie Caron. With Caron, her dear friend and now professor at Paris-Est Créteil, Naomi published “Les Lumières américaines: continuitiés et renouveau” in the on-line journal Transatlantica in 2009. This important essay was awarded the David Thelen Prize for the best foreign-language article on American history at the April meeting of the Organization of American Historians in Milwaukee and will be appear in English translation in The Journal of American History in 2013.

Naomi Wulf will be sorely missed by everyone who had the privilege of knowing her.

Peter Onuf, University of Virginia
Nathalie Caron, Paris-Est Créteil

Posted: May 7, 2012
Tagged: In Memoriam