Jeanne Addison Roberts, Shakespeare scholar

April 23, 2012

Jeanne Addison Roberts, 86, a Shakespeare scholar who taught at American University for three decades until her retirement in 1993, died April 3 at her home in Chevy Chase.

She had cancer, said her husband Markley Roberts.

Dr. Roberts specialized in feminist literary criticism. She was a past president of the Shakespeare Association of America and the Southeast Renaissance Society. She also served on the editorial boards of academic publications devoted to Shakespeare.

Her books included “Shakespeare’s English Comedy” (1979), “The Shakespearean Wild: Geography, Genus, and Gender” (1991) and “Literary Criticism as Dream Analysis” (2009). She also wrote articles on John Milton, Jonathan Swift, Margaret Cavendish, Elizabeth Cary and other authors.

In 2010, she received an award from the Folger Shakespeare Library for her work on the Teaching Shakespeare Institute, a program funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Jeanne Nichols Addison was a Washington native and a 1942 graduate of Woodrow Wilson High School. She received a bachelor’s degree in 1946 from Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Ga., a master’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1947 and a doctorate from the University of Virginia in 1964, all in literature.

In the 1950s, she taught English in Bangkok and was chair of the English department at the Lebanese American University in Beirut, her husband said.

Her memberships included the Cosmos Club.

Her first marriage, to Harold Masengill, ended in divorce. Survivors include her husband of 46 years, Markley Roberts of Chevy Chase; two children from her first marriage, Addison Masengill of Springfield, Mass., and Ellen Coster of Kensington; a brother; and four grandchildren.

— Emily Langer

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