Michael Payne

The campus community mourns the passing of Dr. Michael David Payne, 75, of Lewisburg, on Saturday, January 14, 2017 at Riverwoods, Lewisburg.

Born January 17, 1941 in Dallas, TX, he was a son of the late Fred G. Payne and Jocie (Kirkham) and Lester Lundberg.

He was a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, and Southern Oregon College. Michael then earned his doctorate in English from the University of Oregon.

Michael retired in 2007 as Professor Emeritus of English from Bucknell where he joined the faculty in 1969.  During his tenure at Bucknell, he served as a Presidential Professor of English, John P. Crozer Professor of English Literature, department chair, and Chair of the Faculty.  He was instrumental in founding the Bucknell Institute of Lifelong Learning (BILL) and taught courses in the program for a number of years.  Michael also served as director of the Bucknell University Press and associate editor for the Bucknell Review. His service to the English department included helping to organize a series of lectures by well-known critical theorists at Bucknell and helping to develop courses in children’s literature, theory, and the Humanities Residential College.

Michael was the recipient of numerous awards including the Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching and the Bucknell Class of 1956 Lectureship for Inspirational Teaching. He was also honored with several grants and fellowships including Bucknell faculty research grants, a National Endowment for the Humanities research fellowship, a research fellowship with the Folger Shakespeare Library, and a visiting scholar position with the Warburg Institute at the University of London.

His publications included numerous books and articles, including The Greenblatt Reader; Life.after.theory; Renaissance Literature: An Anthology; Reading Knowledge: An Introduction to Barthes, Foucault, and Althusser; Dictionary of Cultural and Critical Theory; Reading Theory: An Introduction to Lacan, Derrida, and Kristeva; and the 12-volume Bucknell Lectures in Literary Theory. 

Michael was a member of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Lewisburg.

He served on the Lewisburg School Board for several years and wrote a weekly column in the Daily Item called, “On Books,” where each week he reviewed a different book.  He stopped after he reached 500 books.

Michael was a caring man who loved his family, friends and the community he served. He is remembered by many as a colleague and mentor with both wide-ranging and deep knowledge, and a congenial spirit with a kind interest in the work of both younger and senior colleagues.

Surviving are three sons, Edward “Ned” Payne, of Durham, England, Jeffrey Payne, of North Carolina and Albert Payne, of Lewisburg; one daughter, Jennifer Payne, of Oregon; and two grandsons, Devin and Jaysen Payne.

The family is planning a Memorial Service to be held at 3 p.m. on Saturday, January 21 at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, 255 South Derr Drive, Lewisburg, with the Rev. James Strader-Sasser, officiating.

Members of the Bucknell Community are encouraged to visit our In Memoriam Site at bucknell.edu/InMemoriam and share personal notes of sympathy and remembrance with others.

On behalf of the entire Bucknell community, I extend our deepest sympathies to the Payne family, as well as to all who knew him at Bucknell.

John C. Bravman

6 Responses to “Michael Payne”

  1. kpage says:

    Michael was truly a brilliant man. He possessed an intellectual depth that embraced all he met. I feel honored to have known him and feel privileged to have been touched by his ever-inspiring gift for scintillating conversation. May his memory be carried gracefully.

  2. Michael was a dear friend. I worked with him over many years co-directing the series of Mellon theory seminars, and co-editing books from that program. He was wonderful mentor and friend to me, and I recall our many lunches, dinners, and visits together. He was a truly brilliant man, his knowledge only outdone by his kindness and generosity.

  3. John Hunter says:

    Michael was a comrade on a book project, a guide when I first came to Bucknell, and a wonderful friend to me and my family. He will be much missed . . .

  4. jwestbro says:

    Michael had such a gregarious mind. Whether it was with the writers and theoreticians whose pages he plumbed or with students or colleagues, I was immediately struck by his intellectual generosity and comradeship. When we first met and he learned of my interest in Bourdieu, he immediately proposed setting up a Bourdieu reading group. My last extensive interaction was setting up a mini Proust celebration in 2013. Students, retired faculty, BILL alumni all participated in our homegrown hommage, “Proust’s Pleasures.” I will miss the infectious pleasure he took in the intellectual life.

  5. John Rickard says:

    I was Michael’s student in the 1970s, taking three classes with him over my four years at the university. He introduced me to poetry and drama–Shakespeare, Blake, Yeats–that I now teach in the same classrooms as a professor at Bucknell, and his love for literature and learning serve as a foundation for my work everyday. I will remember him as a generous and passionate thinker, writer, and friend.

  6. pommrshm says:

    Michael Payne was truly a great teacher. One day near the end of the semester I was passing by Gardner lecture hall in the Dana Engineering building and heard this thunderous applause. I thought it was a guest speaker or a faculty candidate since that room is often used for those purposes. But to my astonishment as I looked it was students in Michael Payne’s Shakespeare course. They had risen as one and were applauding him and his course. Can a teacher receive a greater compliment?

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