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Remembering Anne-Marie Obajtek-Kirkwood, PhD

June 28, 2016

    Anne-Marie Obajtek-Kirkwood, PhD     
Anne-Marie Obajtek-Kirkwood, PhD

It is with deep sadness that we announce the passing of Anne-Marie Obajtek-Kirkwood, PhD, associate professor of French and founding member of the Department of Global Studies and Modern Languages. Obajtek-Kirkwood died surrounded by her family on Sunday, June 19th.

With a PhD in French literature from the University of Pennsylvania, Obajtek-Kirkwood joined Drexel in 2001. A dedicated teacher and researcher, her passion for French-speaking cultures and peoples influenced entire generations of students in our Modern Languages and Women and Gender Studies programs. On her website (pages.drexel.edu/~ao32), Obajtek-Kirkwood gathered testimonies from numerous students who studied abroad in France, Senegal or Cameroon, and completed intensive French-language projects under her guidance. Students often describe these experiences as life-changing and critical to their career development.

In both her courses and research, she was a leading advocate for the inclusion of Francophone cultures outside of France (Africa, Canada, the Caribbean) and women. Her courses aimed to facilitate common understanding among different peoples and cultures by examining perceptions of the “Other.” One of the many advanced courses she created analyzed how Francophone countries are seen through U.S. eyes and vice versa; in another, she explored media and literary representations of minorities and women. In the latter part of her career, she also took a keen interest on war from a humanistic perspective. She co-edited with Ernest Hakanen, PhD, Signs of War: From Patriotism to Dissent (Palgrave Macmillan, 2007) and published numerous pieces on French-language literary and media representations of war, from World War II to the Iraq war.

Our deepest sympathy goes to Obajtek-Kirkwood’s two sons, Jeremy and Ariel, her family, friends and colleagues. A memorial will be held to honor Obajtek-Kirkwood’s life at the start of classes in September. More information will be announced as the academic year approaches.