NEWS RELEASE, 04/08/98

Jonas Barish, UC Berkeley authority on Shakespeare and Ben Jonson, dies at 76

By Julia Sommer

BERKELEY -- Jonas A. Barish, one of the world's leading scholars of Shakespeare, English drama, Ben Jonson, and "antitheatrical prejudice," died April 1 at Kaiser Hospital in Oakland of respiratory complications from pneumonia. He was 76 years old. He had been a member of the Department of English at the University of California, Berkeley from 1954 until his retirement in 1991.

Barish first came to scholarly eminence through his work on Shakespeare's contemporary, Ben Jonson. His book, "Ben Jonson and the Language of Prose Comedy" (1960), was a landmark in the interpretation of Jonson's plays and in the analysis of 17th-century prose style. His work on Jonson included editions of "Volpone" and "Sejanus."

Barish edited Shakespeare's "All's Well That Ends Well" and wrote numerous scholarly articles on Jonson, Shakespeare, and other Elizabethan and Jacobean playwrights.

His most remarkable scholarly and critical work is a long study of "The Antitheatrical Prejudice" (1981) - a book that surveys the history of the hostility to theater expressed in drama and literary theory, in several languages, from Plato's time to the present. It received the Barnard Hewitt Award of the American Theatre Association for "outstanding research in theatre history."

Barish was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1973. He received two Fulbright Research Fellowships and two Senior Fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

At Berkeley he received two of the highest honors the campus bestows: in 1986 he was named Faculty Research Lecturer, and on his retirement he was awarded the Berkeley Citation in recognition of distinguished achievement and service to the university.

Jonas A. Barish was born in 1922 in New York City. He received his B.A. from Harvard University in 1942 and served in the U.S. Army in Europe 1942-45.

He returned to Harvard for his M.A. (1947) and Ph.D. (1953) in English literature. Before joining the Berkeley faculty, he taught English at Yale University.

Barish is survived by his wife, the former Mildred Seaquist, whom he married in 1964; two daughters - Judith of San Francisco and Rachel of Ann Arbor, Michigan; and a sister, Grace Pologe of Teaneck, N.J.

Donations in Professor Barish's memory, payable to the Regents of the University of California, may be sent to the Department of English, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720-1030, for the Jonas A. Barish Memorial Fund.

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