Skip to main content

Daniel Russell

  • Professor

Daniel S. Russell, professor emeritus in the Department of French and Italian Languages and Literatures in the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, died on April 10, 2016, at his home on Dithridge Street in Oakland. He was 78.

He was chair of his department 1984-96, where he taught such courses as Man and the Cosmos in the 16th Century; Problems in Literary Criticism; Critical Reading; Andre Gide; Emblematic Structures in European Culture; and Rabelais and His Times.

Graduating in 1959 from Hamilton College with a BA in philosophy, Russell earned his MA in 1961 and PhD in 1968, both in French literature from New York University.

He began his teaching career at his undergraduate alma mater as an instructor in Romance languages in 1965, joining the Pitt faculty as an assistant professor of French in 1968.

Russell was the recipient of many grants and awards, including Fulbright fellowships 1963-65, a National Endowment for the Humanities senior fellowship 1987-88 and a Guggenheim Foundation fellowship 1988-89. He lectured across the country and around the world, and served in many professional posts, including as the president of the Alliance Francaise de Pittsburgh 1977-84 and of the Society for Emblem Studies 2007-12.

His research focused on 16th-century emblems and devices as they relate to early modern culture, and he co-founded the journal Emblematica in 1968, serving as one of its editors. He also published two books: “The Emblem and Device in France” (1985) and “Emblematic Structures in Renaissance French Culture” (1995). His service to the University was broad and spanned his entire career. Early on, he was director of the University’s program in France (1971-72), the School of General Studies Council (1974-76) and the medieval and renaissance studies program (1977-83). He also served stints on Faculty Assembly and Senate Council, including four terms on the Senate library committee, ending in 2002. He retired as professor emeritus in 2005.

Russell is survived by his wife, Lila Penchansky; daughter Allison Russell; son Nicolas Russell; and granddaughter Amalia Navarro.