Longtime History Professor Marilyn Morris Has Passed Away | College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences
August 18, 2022

Longtime History Professor Marilyn Morris Has Passed Away

It is with profound grief that we mourn the loss of one of our most innovative and kindest of colleagues, Prof. Marilyn Morris. A member of the UNT History Department for 31 years, Prof. Morris leaves a tremendous academic legacy with her acclaimed scholarship, her vibrant and provocative classes, and her hard work seeing her vision for LGBTQ Studies at UNT come to fruition. Below are the words of our colleague, Dr. Clark Pomerleau, which he delivered upon bestowing the inaugural Marilyn Morris Award for Outstanding Academic Contributions to LGBTQ Studies to Dr. Morris herself in 2019. The History Department would add to his words that Marilyn's most lasting contributions to the world, alongside her scholarship and activism, were her humanity, her strength, her sharp wit, and her vibrant presence. We extend our deepest sympathies to her family and her friends around the world, and we will miss her tremendously.

"There will be many better memorials to Professor Marilyn Morris than I can give, but I want to share some of her LGBTQ Studies contributions that garnered her the inaugural year's career award for her academic and collegial work. The award was named in her honor: Dr. Marilyn Morris Award for Outstanding Academic Contributions to LGBTQ Studies.

Marilyn Morris joined the Department of History in 1991, a time when it was exceedingly rare for scholars in disciplines like History to start their career in lesbian and gay history. Nonetheless, within two years she was actively contributing to academic debates about how to rethink categories of gender and sexuality (1993, 1994, 2002), how to discuss deviance from norms, and how to uncover gay and lesbian history (1998).

A specialist in eighteenth-century British political and cultural history, Marilyn was already publishing on family history in the mid-1990s and adding to scholarship on teaching and learning with her article on how to include the study of sexuality in the World History survey (1998).

In 2003, Marilyn coordinated with a group of faculty members across campus to establish the Study of Sexualities Program--an SOS from LGBTQ faculty at UNT given the campus, state, and national climate at the time. She was instrumental in working with outside donors Howard and Maggie Wat to secure financial support for the program. Marilyn directed the program for its first six years. This precursor to LGBTQ Studies provided an intellectual hub for those who recognized sexuality as a valid area of academic research and teaching. But SOS did more. It carved out space in an institution where many of its affiliated faculty had experienced blatant sexism and homophobia. Housed in History and visible on the university website, SOS was a beacon that signaled that there were supportive, like-minded people at UNT. It reassured incoming scholars of sexuality like myself. As the climate changed in the country and locally, Marilyn led the way in changing the name of SOS to LGBT Studies (2009). She continued to co-direct the program until health problems in 2014, sharing leadership with a colleague whose department could provide more office and personnel resources.

Meanwhile, in her scholarship, Marilyn has considered 'Transgendered Perspectives on Premodern Sexualities' [Studies in English Literature 1500-1900, 46 (Summer 2006): 585-600], marital conflict, domesticity, historical writing about desire, and eighteenth-century gender transgression. She has presented on queer pedagogies (2017), 18th-C studies and queer identity (2006), queerness in British party politics (2010) the historical development of transgender narrative (2015, 2004), and sexualities before sexuality (2003). She has supported graduate students in theses about masculinity, clandestine marriage, feminine perspectives on manhood, and LGBT History in Dallas. Her courses regularly introduce undergraduates to gender and sexuality in early modern Europe, and she has been an affiliated faculty member with WGS for a decade.

It was a great honor to be part of acknowledging the leading role Marilyn has taken at UNT on behalf of LGBTQ Studies. I will miss her."

Thanks to Dr. Stockdale for the wonderful photo of our dearly departed friend and colleague. Rest in peace, Dr. Morris.

#repost The University of North Texas History Department