University of California, Riverside

UCR Newsroom

A Tribute to Professor apRoberts

Professor Ruth apRoberts Never Stopped Teaching

Victorian scholar who loved music passed away Sunday

(March 27, 2006)

Ruth apRoberts in her officeEnlarge

Ruth apRoberts in her office

RIVERSIDE, Calif. ( -- Professor Emerita Ruth apRoberts died Sunday, March 26, after 35 years in the Department of English at the University of California, Riverside. Hired in 1971, she quickly became one of the most innovative and influential scholars of her time. She retired in 1990, but continued teaching on campus, and was often seen at campus lectures and concerts.

A memorial service will be held on campus later in the spring.

"Beloved by students, respected by scholars and readers, and indelibly remembered by those who were fortunate enough to know her, Ruth apRoberts has bestowed an immense legacy on all who care about literature, culture, and humanistic thought," said UC Riverside Chancellor France A. Córdova.

Professor apRoberts was a great scholar of Victorian and religious literatures. Her work focused on nineteenth-century British literature as it intersected with philosophical issues and spiritual traditions. She wrote numerous important articles, including one on poetic form in the Hebrew Bible (published in the premier journal of literary study, PMLA), and another on Psalm 119 (published in The Literary Imagination in 2000).

Born in British Columbia in November, 1919, her late husband was Robert apRoberts, a noted scholar of medieval literature who taught at California State University, Northridge. They had four children: Alison apRoberts, Lucy apRoberts, Mary Garnett West, and Evan apRoberts. Professor apRoberts received her bachelor's degree from the University of British Columbia and her master's degree from the University of California, Berkeley. After a hiatus, during which time she devoted herself to raising her family, she returned to university life, receiving her Ph. D. in English from UCLA.

At UCR, Professor apRoberts held the positions of Graduate Advisor and Chair of the English Department. She taught courses in Victorian literature, the Aesthetic Movement, and the Bible as literature. She held a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1978-79, and she was awarded the UCR Distinguished Teaching Award in 1977 and the Distinguished Emeritus Award in 1995.

Professor Katherine Kinney, current chair of the Department of English at UC Riverside, said "Ruth apRoberts helped shape the intellectual culture of our department. As a scholar of the highest reputation and accomplishment, she led by example. She was a generous colleague and committed teacher whose passion for literature and intellectual inquiry exemplified our shared mission."

Professor apRoberts wrote the following books:

"The Moral Trollope" (Ohio University Press 1971) which explored the aesthetic and ethical dimensions of the novels of Anthony Trollope, finding the books richer and more serious than previous readers had realized

"Arnold and God" (University of California Press 1983) which probed the anti-literal understandings of religion that permeate all of Matthew Arnold's poetry and social criticism. This book was selected by Choice as an Outstanding Book of 1983.

"The Ancient Dialect" (University of California Press 1988) which analyzed the writing of Thomas Carlyle in relation to the study of comparative religions.

Finally, "The Biblical Web" (University of Michigan Press 1994) which provided a purely literary analysis of the Hebrew and Christian Bibles, focusing on the resonances and influence of their language.

Noted scholar Robert H. Super wrote, "Professor apRoberts shows how the Bible finds endless echoes in our common speech and in our daily reading."

Students remember Professor apRoberts as the kind of teacher who might open a hymnal and lead singing in class, to study the poetry of the lyrics set to music. She always attended concerts on campus, even up until very recently before her death.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to the UCR Foundation, Attention: Ruth apRoberts Fund, c/o Development Office, University of California at Riverside, Riverside, CA 92521. Memorial donations will benefit the Department of English.

The University of California, Riverside ( is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

A broadcast studio with fiber cable to the AT&T Hollywood hub is available for live or taped interviews. UCR also has ISDN for radio interviews. To learn more, call (951) UCR-NEWS.

More Information 

General Campus Information

University of California, Riverside
900 University Ave.
Riverside, CA 92521
Tel: (951) 827-1012

Department Information

Media Relations
900 University Avenue
1156 Hinderaker Hall
Riverside, CA 92521

Tel: (951) 827-6397 (951) UCR-NEWS
Fax: (951) 827-5008

Related Links