Friday, May 27, 2011

Dr. Dana Brand, Professor of English


The Hofstra community is deeply saddened by the passing of Professor of English Dana Brand on Wednesday, May 25. Dr. Brand was a former chair of the English Department and taught all genres and periods of American literature, with a main focus on fiction written between 1850-1950. He had been on the Hofstra faculty since 1989.

Dr. Brand was the author of The Spectator and the City in Nineteenth-century American Literature (Cambridge, 1991) and numerous articles on topics in English, American, and French literature, philosophy, and film. He was also a personal essayist and the author of 2007’s Mets Fan, a collection of essays about his experiences as a baseball fan. He wrote a second book about baseball fandom in 2009 titled The Last Days of Shea. Professor Brand was particularly active in Hofstra’s Honors College, where he taught “Culture and Expression,” the interdisciplinary course that is the core of the HUHC curriculum. He said in a 2007 interview with Hofstra Magazine, “The students are so exciting, receptive and involved. In this course I get to introduce them to literary works written hundreds of years ago, and I love to see how they find ways to connect these works to their lives. … If I wasn’t in regular contact with these bright, exciting young people, I would have a much less interesting and much less hopeful view of the world.”

Dr. Brand and Dr. Richard Puerzer, chair of the Department of Engineering, were in the midst of working with the Hofstra Cultural Center on a 2012 conference commemorating the 50th anniversary of the New York Mets. He also maintained a blog about the Mets at http://danabrand.com/blog/.

Dr. Brand is survived by his wife, Sheila Fisher, and his daughter Sonia. Funeral services are private, but a public memorial service is being planned for June 4 at the Meeting House in Newtown, CT. A campus memorial will be planned for the fall semester.

21 comments:

  1. I'd never been in one of Dr. Brand's classes, but as a student whose life has been greatly affected by my encounters with my professors here at Hofstra, I feel it's only right to pay respects and offer my condolences to the family of one that i know was a brilliant and giving (by way of instruction) person, at the very least.

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  2. By far, my absolute favorite professor for my undergraduate studies. Dr. Brand motivated and encouraged my writing, believed in me and became the reason I am a writer today. His lectures were empowering and electric and he truly cared about each and every one of his students. He definitely touched my heart and made a tremendous impact in my life. I am deeply saddened by this news and send peaceful thoughts to his wife and daughter. His passion was contagious.

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  3. Professor Brand was one of my first professors at Hofstra. He made our C&E texts come alive, and made me feel like my opinions mattered in the classroom. He was an incredible professor and a really awesome guy, and I'm so sad I won't be able to take another class with him. I know he will be sincerely missed by the Hofstra community.

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  4. Anthony Major JrMay 27, 2011 at 11:32 AM

    I am deeply sadden by the lost of teacher who was so intune with his school and students. I hope that even though his death might have cause grief to his family and friends thats it will spark greatness. That all his belief and hard work will not go to waste that the people he cared about will want to change the world in a positive way. Now a might not know him but it seems that he has touch many lives and i hope for the best for everyone.

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  5. When I heard Dana had passed away, I imagined him greeting Homer, Virgil, Plato and Aristotle in limbo on his way to paradise. But then I realized that any God who had listened in on Dana's lectures about their works would have admitted them to paradise straight away, and I expect he's with them now, engaged in conversation about the big questions he loved to explore. We'll miss him terribly.

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  6. While I am deeply saddened by Dr. Brand's passing, I am happy to say that I was lucky enough to take one of his classes during my last semester at Hofstra. As a grad student in my final stretch of school, I was anxious to get through my work and graduate. However, I looked forward to Dr. Brand's class every week and stayed immersed in the material he had us read. Dr. Brand was extremely passionate about his work, sharing knowledge and inspiring us, his students, to share with him, as well. Dr. Brand will be missed, and my thoughts are with him and his family.

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  7. Dana Brand was a friend of mine for 22 years, a compassionate, witty, good-natured soul whose own "extraordinary gift for hope” and refined sense of “romantic readiness" were both real and sincere. It was what guided him in his personal as well as his professional life. He could always be counted on to be a voice of reason in the midst of chaos. His opinion mattered to me. Always.

    Just last week, Dana and I were commiserating over the state of our beleaguered Mets. We agreed that after a lifetime of following the team in separate but often strangely parallel lives, some losses are tough to come back from.
    He of course said it was character-building and that it took a kind of purity of heart to be the type of fan whose loyalty was unconditional. Dana's purity of heart defined him above all else. For me, and I’m sure for everyone who knew him, some losses are just too profound.

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  8. Patricia NavarraMay 27, 2011 at 3:13 PM

    Dana had a bracing sense of what it is to be American, grounded in literature and baseball, gentleness and possibility. Students adored him. Our Hofstra community is forever changed.

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  9. I was shocked and saddened to read about Dana's passing in today's Newsday. I had only one chance to meet him, back a few years ago during his book talk at Reunion Weekend at Hofstra. I could see that he was a very talented, bright, funny man and know he will be missed.

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  10. Scott HarshbargerMay 27, 2011 at 4:52 PM

    Dana radiated humanity.

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  11. I can see him at the bar with Casey and Gil........

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  12. Meeting Dana was a turning point for me in my career as a student. When I enrolled at Hofstra in September, 1999, at the age of 32 to complete my undergraduate degree, I wasn't sure if I had made the right decision. When I left in 2007, I had not only completed my Bachelors, but my Masters in English Literature.

    I will forever be grateful to Dana for his guidance as a teacher, but I am proud and grateful to have considered him a friend as well. His love of literature taught me so many important things about life; his love of baseball taught me to never lose the childlike enthusiasm for who and what you love.

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  13. I was fortunate enough to be in Dr. Brand's Culture & Expression class in the fall of 2011 when I transferred to Hofstra. A confused sophomore, I found guidance under the tutelage of Dr. Brand whose teaching approach fostered creative and original thinking. Ultimately, I credit him in part for my own decision to pursue a career in academia. Dr. Brand was simply awe-inspiring. His classroom was a site of burgeoning enthusiasm and meaningful inquiry. I'll never forget the day he read to us from Mets Fan, likening it to Homer's Odyssey, demonstrating that championing any cause or passion is in fact a worthy pursuit. Dr. Brand did this with his love of the New York Mets. Hofstra will miss a great professor, a brilliant mind, and most of all a friendly, smiling face.

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  14. RIP Dana, a scholar/teacher who enriched my interest in the Mets, giving them tragic, literary depth, like a team with centuries of history; and a scholar/teacher who inspired me to read Mark Twain carefully, with a passion for humanity, its flaws and foibles. Brand truly encouraged learning, a sense of wonder. He will be sorely missed!

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  15. Professor Brand was an extraordinary teacher who truly touched the lives of his students. I feel so lucky that I had the opportunity to take classes with him both semesters this school year. He has inspired me with his passion, his creativity, his kindness and patience, and his unwavering support. He brought such an amazing positive energy to his classes and lectures and his spirit was infectious. Professor Brand lived a meaningful life, and he will live on through his students, through his fans, and through his written words. I know that wherever Professor Brand is now, he is in a wonderful and beautiful place, wearing his Mets jersey, drinking a big iced coffee, and smiling down on us. He will be missed but never forgotten.

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  16. Dana came into my office a couple of weeks ago to discuss a departmental matter, but when he saw a reading by Walter Pater on my desk, he lit up and said, "Oh, you're reading Pater?--it's been so long since I've read him." Not too many people, I imagine, would have such enthusiasm for both Pater and the Mets. What a pleasure and privilege to know and work with Dana. He was a wonderful colleague and I will miss him very much.

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  17. Professor Brand was an outstandingly passionate and well spoken man. I was very lucky to have him and he will be missed. My condolences to his family and friends. He made my Hofstra experience a brighter one.

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  18. Dana was one colleague I was always pleased to run into. His smile would light up the whole space around him and he would always have something pleasant or something witty - often both - to say. He and I taught in the Honors College together a couple times, and he's one serious and considerate co-teacher, I'll tell you that. I remember when his book came out; as a fellow 19th-century scholar (although I work in French literature) and an admirer of the flâneur, I was eager to hear him speak - and he did not disappoint. He and I discussed putting together a senior seminar for the Honors College on London and Paris or American and France in the 19th century. It would have been such a pleasure, just as it has been an immense pleasure to have known him. I'll miss him... I do miss him.

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  19. Perhaps one of only a handful of professors who could make C&E interesting. He was knowledgeable and passionate, and, despite his burly appearance, not the least bit intimidating. He helped so many of us make a comfortable transition to college. I consider myself lucky to have learned from him. Those students who will never know him are truly missing out.

    how fragile is life.

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  20. Dana was the best boss that I ever had. I was his secretary in the late 90's. Each day he would burst through the office bringing with him light and laughter. He had the most contagious smile and laugh. He was fair and non-judgemental and inquisitive. He was passionate about life, his love for his wife and daughter, teaching, baseball, friends and being a good and decent person. He was a true gentleman and a natural leader. People wanted to be in his company because he radiated warmth and fun and excitement. His was a larger than life personality and I will treasure the time that I was priviledged enough to work with him. Heather Fernandes

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  21. Dana was my best friend since we were 8. Even then we knew we wanted to be writers and voila, it happened. He was the smartest kid in grade school and high school and while his dad Lenny wanted him to be a doctor, Dana chose the literary route. He was a great guy, shaped my life, I hope I had an impact on his. Still remember hiding transistor radio in his coat during 69 Mets.....

    David M Greenfield

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