July 29, 2011 by Furrah Qureshi
F. Elaine DeLancey, associate professor in Drexel’s Department of English and Philosophy, died July 16 in her home. She taught courses in American and African-American literature and in the past had served as the director of the African-American studies and women’s studies programs. DeLancey was the founding editor of “BMa: The Sonia Sanchez Literary Review” and is regarded as one of the foremost scholars on African-American poet Sonia Sanchez.
Aside from the courses in American and African-American literature that DeLancey taught, she specialized in the fields of world drama, science studies (race and gender in science) and women’s studies, according to her personal Web page on the Drexel website. DeLancey also served as a Pennsylvania Humanities Council speaker for five years in the 1990s, lecturing on “Technology & the Black Community: Black Talk Radio,” “Technology & the Black Community: Internet” and “Slave Narratives,” as was noted in a release from the College of Arts and Sciences.
Abioseh Porter, head of the Department of English and Philosophy, expressed his respect for DeLancey as a colleague and educator.
“Her students and colleagues will best remember her as someone who symbolized honest, serious (and not necessarily crowd-pleasing) academic work. Because she often propounded what is now often referred to as an ‘idealistic’ vision of learning while also being acutely aware of the realities of our times, and also because F. Elaine DeLancey never hesitated to take a principled stand and speak truth to power, her motives and actions were not always understood. However, anyone even remotely close to her quickly came to realize that excellence, even potential excellence and fairness, were always her major concerns,” Porter said.
“We will miss her not only because she made every effort to push us toward the ideals for which we entered academia in the first place, but particularly because of her promotion of rigorous and honest intellectual effort at all levels. The manner in which she made ‘BMa: The Sonia Sanchez Literary Review’ — the scholarly journal she founded here at Drexel — into a superior international journal and cultural artifact will remain a model for other scholars to emulate,” Porter emphasized.
DeLancey earned her doctorate in American literature from Temple University and was named Junior Fellow of the Carnegie Foundation in her senior year. The fellowship allowed her to conduct research with American historian Lawrence Reddick and Alex Haley, author of “Roots.”
In total, DeLancey was a member of the Drexel community for 33 years.
“To her family, especially her children, Dawn and Dayle, and to her grandchildren, Zachary and Brianna, we can only say, ‘du courage!’” Porter said.
Further information in a statement from Porter can be read on the Department of English and Philosophy website.