Dr. Alan Rosiene of Melbourne, Fl., long-time member of ISHR, passed away on January 16th 2021 after a short illness. Alan was a much esteemed professor of English and languages at the School of Arts and Communication of Florida Institute of Technology. He taught a broad range of courses in Western civilization and literature that were highly appreciated by his many students, and shouldered a variety of administrative duties. His high-ranking research was focused on medieval Latin literature and the medieval Arts of Poetry.
Alan Rosiene's devotion to students was unparalleled. He won the Florida Tech Student Ambassadors Outstanding Faculty Award in 1998, and one year later, the Kerry Bruce Clark Award for Excellence in Teaching. From 2013 to 2015, he was recognized with three consecutive President’s Awards for University Excellence, which honor faculty and staff for contributions to the life of the university beyond the regular duties of employment. In recognition of Alan Rosiene's merits for education and to honor his legacy, his university has established the Dr. Rosiene Liberal Arts Scholarship, for students pursuing a liberal arts education at Florida Tech.
Alan was a regular participant and a versatile and inspiring speaker on medieval rhetoric in ISHR conferences from 1999 (Amsterdam) until 2019 (New Orleans). He will be remembered, and sorely missed, as a congenial and highly respected colleague in our research field and a respected member of our Society.
From 1999 in Amsterdam to 2019 in New Orleans, Alan Rosiene was a regular presenter at ISHR conferences. Over the years, his research focus shifted from sophisticated analysis of medieval catalogues of the rhetorical figures – illustrated with elaborate, color-coded charts – to brilliant detective work on the enigmatic, early thirteenth-century English rhetorician Gervase of Melkley.
Alan may have set high standards for his own scholarship and that of others, but he was the most generous and enthusiastic of colleagues, always eager to share what he had discovered and offer encouragement to fellow scholars. Those fortunate enough to have known him will miss his gentle irony, his seemingly boundless knowledge and interests, and the pleasure he took in the company and conversation of family and friends.
I had followed some of Alan's work over the years on Gervase of Melkley, and I admired how he brought that intensive work together in his 2018 article. He was able to enter the artes poetriae tradition from one of its more oblique points, Gervase’s treatise, and by commanding that perspective he could survey the whole tradition from a new vantage point. I don’t know if he planned a book or more work, but I’m glad he was able to publish that significant chapter in the book edited by Domenico Losappio.
Alan Rosiene embodied that rare combination of complete dedication to and humility in scholarship. He and I came into the field of medieval rhetoric at about the same time, and his passion for work on the ars poetriae was a great encouragement to me. When I took up his favorite author, Gervase of Melkley, years later in studies of medieval Marian rhetoric, Alan generously sent along key resources. He was happy commenting on chapter drafts, illuminating graduate students after ISHR sessions, and (as I found when he kindly joined an informal birthday party for my husband during the New Orleans conference) making memorable toasts. If I were in Nijmegen, I would join others in toasting Alan, someone who wore his learning so lightly and always cast it ahead so that others could see.
Since Amsterdam 1999, when I first met him, whenever I went on an ISHR Conference, I looked forward to seeing Alan. His personal amiability and subtle humour were on a par with his scholarly expertise. Conversations with him were always inspiring and entertaining. To see him already gravely ill in New Orleans was truly saddening.
Martin Camargo put me in touch with Alan Rosiene in summer of 2020, as soon as he learned I was working on an edition and translation of Gervase of Melkley. Alan and I exchanged a rash of emails that summer and became good friends without ever meeting. Then the emails subsided, and when I went to contact Alan again early in 2022, I found to my great sadness that he had been dead for a year. His work on Gervase was thorough and precise and broke much new ground; he shared it with me very willingly, and when I publish my edition I will report on it and express my deep gratitude to him.
Everyone knows Alan’s great contribution to the fields of medieval literature and of medieval arts of poetry. However, Alan was above all a good and kind person, with a genuine passion for his work which did not fade down along the years. Once I approached him to ask some advice on a book chapter I was editing. I was hesitant in making this request as I was a junior academic and I feared he would have just overlooked my request, busy with more important things to do. I could have not been more wrong! He replied to me full of enthusiasm, offering a long list of topics related to Gervase of Melkley that he would have been happy to write about. His eyes were always sparkling when he was speaking about his research during the ISHR conferences. Alan will always be for me a great human and professional example.
Alan had a wonderful way of balancing an intense focus on his work with a graciousness toward the work of his colleagues and friends. He always put people at ease while never losing this focus. His many awards for teaching excellence showed that he carried this balance and graciousness into the classroom, where two generations of students benefitted from his enthusiasm. This balance was also recognized by his colleagues at Florida Tech, who gave him increasing administrative responsibilities over his 28 years there. Those of us fortunate enough to hear his presentations at ISHR conferences could feel this enthusiasm for his work, and it was always a pleasure to have a drink with Alan afterwards and enjoy his quiet humor and many insights into an amazingly wide range of subjects.
I got to know Alan Rosiene at ISHR conferences, and last heard him present in New Orleans in 2019. Alan found a receptive and congenial group of medievalists, all sharing his passionate engagement with medieval rhetoric. Alan’s meticulous, careful, and inspiring scholarship on Gervase of Melkley, one of the more neglected poetic theorists of the medieval period, was so welcome. His important work on Gervase’s relationship to other arts of poetry and theoretical bodies of grammar and rhetoric was illuminating. We will miss his attention to detail, his ability to peel away layers of occluding scholarship to reveal what is hiding in plain sight in the text itself. Most of all we will miss his good humor and enthusiasm.
In London, Tübingen, and New Orleans, I looked forward to engaging discussions with Alan on topics as varied as medieval rhetoric and contemporary science fiction. He will be remembered as a kind mentor and scholar.
I remember with warmth and gratitude the spontaneous conversations I had with Alan during the many ISHR conferences we both attended.
Marc van der Poel
Alan was someone who could critique my work in a way that made me feel grateful and moved along my path.
Marjorie Curry Woods