Harvard has offered a lifetime appointment to Duke University Professor Naomi Schor, a leading scholar of 19th century French literature, according to members of the Romance Languages and Literatures Department.
Schor has been meeting with Dean of the Faculty Jeremy R. Knowles to discuss the position, said Professor of Romance and Comparative Literatures Susan R. Suleiman.
The chances of Schor accepting the position are about 50-50, Suleiman said.
"The reason it is 50-50 is because while Harvard has great drawing power, there are certain things that make recruitment on the senior level quite difficult for Harvard," said Suleiman.
According to Suleiman, Duke is able to offer Schor more than Harvard, including an endowed chair and a spousal policy. This policy means that Duke will, as a recruitment incentive, make an effort to hire a potential faculty member's spouse.
"They have a lot of bait," said Suleiman, "Harvard hasn't been able to match what Duke can."
Schor's husband, Paol Keineg, is an adjunct associate professor of Romance studies at Duke. According to sources, Schor would be reluctant to leave Durham, N.C. unless her husband receives a job offer in the Northeast.
If Schor does accept the Harvard appointment, she will be the third scholar Harvard has lured from Duke in the last year. Last spring, the University extended lifetime appointments to Duke professors Henry Louis Gates Jr. and K. Anthony Appiah.
Schor's scholarship focuses on 19th century French literature and feminist studies.
"She is a very important voice in 19th-century French studies," said Charles C. Burnheimer, chair of the Comparative Literature Department at the University of Pennsylvania.
Although Schor's work concentrates on French literature, Burnheimer said her interests are diverse and include academic fields ranging from fine arts to social history.
"Her work is important insofar as it brings together a number of different trends in modern critical theory," Burnheimer said. "She is not only a feminist, although she is a feminist, but also she works from the point of view of a philosopher and has strong views as a literary historian."
Burnheimer said that Schor is uniquely able to bring to a variety of fields and approaches to her work. One of Schor's strengths is her ability to give new readings to works of the canon, he said.
"She is a very strong scholar and a wonderful appointment," said Burnheimer.
Other scholars agreed with Burnheimer's assessment of Schor's work.
"She has written some really major books," Suleiman said. "She has given a new interpretation of some of the 19th-century French writers. She is a superb scholar of 19th-century French literature, a very good literary theorist and a feminist."
Among Schor's books are Reading in Detail: Aesthetics and the Feminine, published in 1987 by Methuen, Breaking the Chain: Women, Theory and French Realist Fiction, published in 1985 by Columbia University Press and Zola's Crowds, published in 1978 by The Johns Hopkins University Press.
The Duke scholar is currently at work on a book on George Sand and is the editor of the journal Differences.
Schor could not be reached for comment