September 30, 2020


Dear Members of Our Campus Community,

With a heavy heart I must share the sad news that Dr. Carol Braun Pasternack, Professor Emerita of English, passed away this month. Her dedication to higher learning, student success, and academics manifested through a multitude of contributions to campus beyond her academic tenure. Known by faculty, students, and staff alike, she left an unforgettable impact, and our hearts go out to her friends and family during this difficult time. On September 30, we will lower our campus flag to honor her memory and lifetime of achievements.

Dr. Pasternack grew up in Chicago and Los Angeles. In 1983 she received a Ph.D. in medieval English literature from UCLA, and in 1987 joined UC Santa Barbara’s Department of English, where she served until her retirement in 2013. Dr. Pasternack was a preeminent scholar on gender and sexuality in Anglo-Saxon England. She chaired our Medieval Studies Program, mentored students, and fostered rich learning opportunities in English literature and the history of the English language. As an educational innovator, she was part of our Transcriptions Center, focused on digital humanities and new media, and helped to develop courses such as “From Scroll to Screen” and “The Voice and the Page” comparing media across the ages.

Professor Pasternack's deep understanding of manuscript culture as the new medium of its time, her fluency in Anglo-Saxon as well as Old and Middle English literature, and her commitment to theories of gender and sexualities led to a career of field-defining publications. She was the author of The Textuality of Old English Poetry and numerous articles on oral and textual theory, especially in relation to gender and sexuality. She also published collections of essays such as Vox intexta: Orality and Textuality in the Middle Ages (co-edited with A.N. Doane), Gender and Difference in the Middle Ages (co-edited with Sharon Farmer), and Sex and Sexuality in Anglo-Saxon England (co-edited with Lisa M.C. Weston). She received multiple awards and recognitions, including a UC President’s Research Fellowship in the Humanities, our Professional Women’s Association’s “Unsung Heroines Award,” and the English Department’s Graduate Mentorship Award.

Beyond her career as a professor, Dr. Pasternack worked in administration as our Dean of Summer Sessions, promoting travel study, mentorship, and pioneering online learning options. Her service to this campus stretched far and wide, including co-chairing our Design Review Committee. We are indebted to Carol for advancing educational opportunities for all of UC Santa Barbara’s students. Her contributions remain with us forevermore and serve as a reminder of the positive impact one person can have on a community.


Henry T. Yang