Carl Viggiani, professor of Romance languages and literatures, emeritus, died Jan. 16, 2010. He was 87 years old. He joined the Wesleyan faculty in 1954, teaching French language and literature. Active in the Center for the Humanities in its early years, he also offered numerous colloquia for the College of Letters; founded the Wesleyan Program in Paris, which he directed or served as resident director in Paris over seven and a half years; and frequently served as chair of the Romance Languages and Literatures Department.
Viggiani earned his bachelor’s degree from Columbia College, his master’s degree from Harvard University, and his PhD, in French literature of the 19th century, from Columbia University. He was awarded numerous honors, including Fulbright and Guggenheim fellowships. He served as managing editor of Romanic Review for 10 years, translated works by Camus and Maupassant, co–edited the book, Witnessing Andre Malraux: Visions and Revisions, and he wrote or presented more than 30 academic papers, articles, and reviews.
“Carl Viggiani was a gentle, humane, and extremely knowledgeable man. He was constantly in dialogue with ancient and new ideas,” says former colleague Joyce Lowrie, professor of Romance languages and literatures, emerita. “He had a marvelous sense of language and of humor that served his colleagues, his students and the university in the highest degree possible.”
Catherine Poisson, associate professor and chair of the Romance Languages and Literatures Department, told her departmental colleagues, “I know that, with me, you will remember Carl as an immensely generous person. ‘Un juste’, as Camus would have said.”
Jeff Rider, professor of Romance languages and literatures, concurred, adding: “Since Carl was a friend of Camus and a Camus scholar, I think he would have liked that epitaph.”
Viggiani taught at Wesleyan for 37 years before retiring in 1991. He is survived by his daughter, Frances; his son, Carl; and a granddaughter. He was predeceased by his wife, Jane Viggiani, and a daughter. A memorial service on campus was held in late February at Russell House.