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Rosenblatt, Louise M. (Louise Michelle), 1904-2005 | Southern Illinois University Special Collections Research Center

Name: Rosenblatt, Louise M. (Louise Michelle), 1904-2005
Variant Name: Rosenblatt, Louise

Historical Note:

Louise M. Rosenblatt was born in Atlantic City to first-generation European Jewish immigrants of modest means. At Barnard College, where she received her undergraduate degree in 1925, she wore clothes her father had sewn for her.

During her years at Barnard, Rosenblatt developed friendships with anthropologist Margaret Mead and poet Leonie Adams, part of a group known formally as "The Ash Can Cats." Mead chronicles the friendship in her memoir, Blackberry Winter: My Early Years, in 1972.

After graduation, she thought about going to Samoa with Mead, but decided instead to go to France. In Paris, she met writers Andre Gide, Gertrude Stein and Robert Penn Warren.

In 1926, she received the certitude d'etudes Francais from France's University of Grenoble. She received a doctorate in comparative literature from the Sorbonne in 1931. At age 27, she published her first book, in French, on the ''art for art's sake" movement in England.

In the 1930s she began teaching literature to college students and developing her theories on reading. Her seminal book on reading theory was ''Literature as Exploration," published in 1938 and reissued for several decades thereafter. In addition to numerous scholarly articles, she also wrote ''Making Meaning With Texts: Selected Essays" (2005).

Rosenblatt was married to Sidney Ratner, an economic historian at Rutgers University. The two were married for 63 years at the time of Ratner's death in 1996.

During World War II, she worked for the Office of War Information, analyzing information from Nazi-occupied France.  She was an instructor at Barnard from 1927 to 1938, assistant professor at Brooklyn College from 1938 to 1948 and a professor of English education at New York University's School of Education (now the Steinhardt School of Education) from 1948 until her retirement in 1972, when she received NYU's Great Teacher Award.

She was elected to the International Reading Association Hall of Fame in 1992 and received the John Dewey Society Lifetime Achievement Award in 2001.  In November, she spoke to a standing-room-only session of a convention of English teachers meeting in Indianapolis. Kent Williamson, executive director of the National Council of Teachers of English, noted that ''at 100 years of age, she had acquired rock-star status. Why? Because her ideas and beliefs were just as fresh, as liberating and as relevant to the challenges that teachers face today as they had been so many years ago."

Note Author: Joe Holley, David Bond

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