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Georgia K. Johnston, Ph.D. (1958-2017)

Georgia K. Johnston, Ph.D., a professor in the Department of English, died Monday, March 20, at the age of 58, following a long and courageous struggle with cancer.

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Georgia K. Johnston, Ph.D.

A member of the Saint Louis University faculty since 1992, Johnston graduated with her doctorate in British literature from Rutgers University in New Jersey.

“She was an internationally recognized scholar of Modern British Literature, specializing in the intersections between women’s writing, psychoanalysis and constructions of gender,” said Toby Benis, Ph.D., chair of the Department of English and a longtime friend. 

Benis said that in addition to her work on behalf of the Department of English, Johnston was a tireless advocate for women’s and gender studies at SLU.  She served as the women’s studies program’s director for two years, and mentored many undergraduate and graduate students engaged in the study of gender and literature.

“Georgia was an exceptional teacher, completely committed to her students and to the subjects she taught with passion and intelligence,” Benis said. “She was a particularly effective mentor for English graduate students.” 

 Johnston was recognized by the department’s graduate students five years ago when she received the student award for Outstanding Faculty Mentor.  She served the University in many other capacities as well, including interim English department chair in 1999, and most recently, coordinator of Graduate Studies in English.

“She will be much missed by the English Department, the University and her many students,” Benis added.

Christopher Duncan, Ph.D., dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, also shared his thoughts about Johnston’s loss.

“In my conversations with Georgia in various settings I found her insightful, passionate and funny,” Duncan said. “She was quick to laugh and, while a serious person, had a keen sense of perspective and a generous spirit. Though it almost never seems like the right time to say goodbye to people we love and care for, it is tragically clear that it was far too soon to lose Georgia.”

Johnston is survived by her mother, Patricia Johnston; her sister, Margaret Ohlenschleager; her brother, William (Bill) W. Johnston; her sister, Elizabeth (Liz) Johnston Arbittier; her niece, nephews, grandnephews, grandniece and other family members. She is also survived by her longtime companion Paige Canfield, professor in the School of Law and director of appellate advocacy, and many friends.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, March 25, at Trinity Episcopal Church, 600 N. Euclid.