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Retired ND American Studies professor dies

Observer Staff Report | Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Retired Notre Dame American Studies professor Elizabeth Christman died Thursday. She was 96.

Christman served as an editorial research officer for the U.S. Navy during World War II and worked for a New York literary agency before joining the Notre Dame faculty in 1976.

When working for the agency Harold Ober Associates, Christman associated with well-known writers such as William Faulkner, Pearl Buck and J.D. Salinger.

Christman read the Salinger’s novel “Catcher in the Rye” when it was still a manuscript.
But her vocation was teaching, so she obtained masters and doctoral degrees from New York University in order to teach at DePauw University and then at Notre Dame.

At the University, she designed and taught a publishing course in which students would seek out manuscripts, sign a contract with the author and go through the steps of editing, producing and selling the books.

She also wrote short stories, novels and poetry. During the 1978 summer Commencement address, she delivered her speech in verse — the only Notre Dame Commencement speaker to do so.

Several of her novels, such as “A Nice Italian Girl” and “Ruined for Life,” are published.
A memorial Mass will be celebrated Saturday at 10 a.m. at Holy Redeemer Church in Webster Groves, Mo.

The University is in the process of planning a memorial Mass on campus in honor of Christman.

Contributions in Christman’s honor may be made to Friends of Kids with Cancer at 530 Maryville Centre Drive, Ste. LL5, St. Louis Mo.