Published: October 2005
On September 21, J. Robert Barth, SJ, a scholar of the British Romantic poets and the former dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, died of cancer at the age of 74.
In the days that followed, and at a funeral Mass in a packed St. Ignatius Church on September 26, his students, colleagues, and family gathered to remember the man with the resonant voice who is credited with revitalizing the arts at Boston College. Fr. Barth first came to the University as the Thomas I. Gasson Professor in 1985. As dean, he established the music and theater departments, oversaw the opening of the McMullen Museum of Art, and was the first chair of the Boston College Arts Council, which, among other things, organizes BC’s annual Arts Festival. He was also known for his old-fashioned and enthusiastic declamations of poetry, and recorded two CDs, including one featuring the poetry of Wordsworth and the other poems by Francis Thompson and Gerard Manley Hopkins, SJ. One of seven children, Fr. Barth was born in Buffalo, New York, became a Jesuit of the New York Province, and was educated at Bellarmine College in Louisville, Kentucky, Fordham University, and Harvard University.
- “Scholar and ‘voice’ of BC,” obituary from the Boston Globe
- Video of the funeral Mass eulogy by John Mahoney, the Rattigan Professor of English Emeritus, and homily by Joseph A. Appleyard, SJ, vice president of University Mission and Ministry
- Audio of Barth from his CD Poetry of William Wordsworth, from @BC
- Video of Barth’s talk “Romanticism and the Religious Tradition,” from Boston College Front Row
- “Former Dean Embodied ‘the Best’ of Arts, Humanities,” from Chronicle