Marshall Fishwick, retired professor and founder of popular culture studies, dies at 82
Marshall William Fishwick, teacher, author, and world traveler, died Monday, May 22 at his Blacksburg home. He was 82.
Fishwick, professor emeritus in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences who retired in 2003, is widely regarded as originator of the academic movement known as Popular Culture, and he co-founded the Popular Culture Association in the late 1960s.
Born in Roanoke, Virginia, and a graduate of Jefferson High School, Fishwick held degrees from the University of Virginia, the University of Wisconsin, and Yale University, and he later received honorary degrees from Krakov University, Bombay University, and Dhaka University. During his career, he received eight Fulbright Awards and numerous additional grants which enabled him to introduce the popular culture discipline at home and abroad in Denmark, Germany, Italy, Poland, Russia, Bangladesh, India, and Korea.
Fishwick founded the journal International Popular Culture, and was co-founder of the Popular Culture Association. He served as the association's president and was advisory editor of both the Journal of Popular Culture and the Journal of American Culture. Throughout his career he contributed articles on American studies and popular culture to papers and journals all over the world; he also published numerous articles and commentaries in American magazines and newspapers. In 1997 he was presented the Life Achievement Award in Popular Culture by the Popular Culture Association.
Fishwick’s literary career began while he was at sea with the Atlantic Fleet during World War II. His collected poems, The Face of Jang, were published in 1945. After the war, he earned a doctorate in American Studies at Yale University. His dissertation was published as A New Look at the Old Dominion.
He went on to write more than twenty books and edited an additional dozen in the fields of history, literature, education, theology, and communication. A life-long interest in heroes resulted in such titles as Virginians on Olympus, The Hero: Myth and Reality, The Hero: American Style, Heroes of Popular Culture, and The Hero in Transition. Other titles included Lee after the War, General Lee’s Photographer, Springlore in Virginia, and Faust Revisited.
His books on popular culture included Seven Pillars of Popular Culture, Common Culture and the Great Tradition, Great Awakenings: Popular Religion in America, and most recently, two textbooks, Go and Catch a Falling Star and An American Mosaic. An inveterate traveler, Fishwick reminisced about his journeys in Around the World in Forty Years. His most recent book, Cicero and Popular Culture, is in press and will be published posthumously.
Fishwick was a member of the Guild of Scholars of the Episcopal Church and former Historiographer of the Diocese of Southwest Virginia. He was a member of Christ Episcopal Church in Blacksburg. He is survived by his wife, Dr. Ann La Berge (Fishwick), four children, the Reverend Jeffrey Fishwick, Ellen McLean, Susan Green, and Lucy Reinhardt, two step-children, Leigh Claire and Louisa La Berge, and thirteen grandchildren.
The funeral will take place at Christ Episcopal Church, Church and Jackson Streets in Blacksburg on Thursday, May 25 at 11 a.m. with the Reverends Elizabeth Morgan and Alex Evans officiating. A reception in the parish hall will follow the service. A private interment will take place in Roanoke. The family requests no flowers, but suggests memorial gifts to the Leyburn Library at Washington and Lee University, Lexington, Virginia.