Russell Peck

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Headshot of Russell Peck.

Rochester’s Department of English is remembering Russell Peck as an extraordinary teacher, mentor, editor, and medievalist.

A driving force in the medievalist community, Peck was the founder and general editor of the Middle English Text Series and was a pioneer in the field of digital humanities. He also helped tremendously in the foundation of the Rossell Hope Robbins Library at the University.

His career in the English department spanned more than five decades. Peck was a fierce advocate for the arts—stewarding the department’s theatre programs in Stratford and London, which shaped countless students’ lives and education. His commitment to teaching, scholarship, and inclusion, especially in the medieval field, will forever be a part of his legacy.

A memorial service will be held at the University Interfaith Chapel on April 29 at 11 a.m. Reception to follow.

University remembers Russell Peck

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“With his boundless intellect, energy, and generosity of spirit, Russell was the epitome of everything that is great about the liberal arts — and his extraordinary partnership with the incredibly talented Ruth was an utter inspiration. I cherish the memories from my many theatre experiences with them in London and Stratford, Canada — two shows a day, every day, with lively and insightful discussions! — and the Peck Artistic Directorship will always be something that I am enormously proud to have helped establish.”

Janice Willett ’78S (MBA)

“Such brilliance and verve. Nearly 30 years later, I can still quote from lectures Professor Peck delivered in the classes I took with him as an undergraduate. As dynamic an expositor of literature as he was for us, he was an equally good listener: always interested in his students' perspectives and experiences, unfailingly generous with his time and insight, patient with the foibles of youth. I join countless others in expressing my enduring gratitude for what Professor Peck gave us and my condolences to his family, friends and colleagues."

George Yannopoulos ’97 (BA)


“I'll never forget Professor Peck's energy, his wide-ranging enthusiasms, and his generosity — in time, sympathy, food, and videos related to King Arthur and medievalism — to struggling and stressed-out students. Also — little known fact — he was a terrific dancer, as I found out when he came to my wedding! He was one of a kind. My condolences to his family & all those who miss him."

Pauline J. Alama ’98 (PhD)


“I took Professor Peck's Chaucer class as a biology major, Sophomore year, Fall 1978.  I always wished I might have the opportunity to go back to the English Department to see Professor Peck, to let him know that, while I wasn't a standout student, his class left an indelible mark on me — that I thought of Chaucer whenever my 'purse' was empty ('be heavy again!'), and that after many years, I had not 'found the remedy'"

Michael D. Johnson ’81 (BA)

“I had the very good fortune of enrolling in Russell's graduate seminar in Middle English literature in the mid-1970's. While primarily interested in 20th century fiction, I thought that venturing beyond my usual literary periods and genres would be beneficial to me and better prepare me for the comprehensive examination required by the M.A. program. Of course, as all of you know having had Russell as a teacher was far more than just that. He was erudite, personable, compelling, and wholly entertaining in every way. As my life went on with me working as an academic librarian, I became increasingly familiar with the Middle Ages and came to regret with each passing year my missed opportunity to focus on the early period of English rather than the modern period. For that, i'm regretful but thankful to this day that my exposure to that era was masterfully instilled thanks to Russell. R.I.P."

James Kelly '77 (MA)