Remembering Professor Robert Goulet

January 2, 2019

The pioneer of film studies at Stonehill, Professor Emeritus of English Robert Goulet died unexpectedly on December 29, barely two week after his 78th birthday.

The founding Director of the Cinema Studies program, Goulet was known for his enthusiasm and academic rigor as well as for the legendary Bob Goulet Lending Library, a collection of 3,400 movies, which he generously shared with students and faculty alike. After teaching at the College for 44 years, during which time he made major contributions to the English department, he retired in 2012.

“Bob changed the way hundreds of students and many colleagues viewed movies and their place in American culture. He had a wonderful ability to prompt and inspire deep, critical thinking about literature and film something that both students and faculty stressed in their nominations of him for the Louise F. Hegarty Award for Excellence in Teaching, which he received in 2002,” recalls Provost Joseph Favazza.

Below are several excerpts from those nominations:

  • “Film was never a subject I was very interested in until I met Professor Goulet. I remember well how intimidated I was to speak in class about an unfamiliar subject. Professor Goulet with his broad knowledge and overwhelming enthusiasm, quickly made me feel comfortable in class and soon had me speaking and writing about film with the same enthusiasm.”
  • “A Goulet class is one of excitement and thrill. Professor Goulet engages his students and challenges them to think critically about literature and film. I will never look at a movie the same way again.”
  • “He devises truly ingenious assignments to motivate and awaken students’ creativity. Yet Bob’s most enduring contribution to the College may be in the education of his colleagues. In addition, to sharing the wealth of the Bob Goulet Lending Library, Bob has also taught us invaluable lessons, from the practical—about filmed materials that would complement our teaching—to the theoretical—that films are not idle entertainment but vital texts that themselves participate in the formation of culture.”

In a 2012 interview with the Stonehill Alumni Magazine, Goulet recalled his favorite class assignment, from the Film and Story course, as “challenging students to prepare a scenario and a storyboard based on a scene from a short story.”

Asked what he might miss after teaching at Stonehill for 88 semesters, he replied, “Having long conversations about books, plays, movies, television series, politics, pedagogy and ephemera with smart, sensitive, socially conscious and unpretentious students, colleagues and staff members”

As for his teaching legacy, Goulet noted that he hoped his “former students are having long conversations about books, plays, movies, television series, politics, pedagogy and ephemera with others.”

Susan Zawalich ’70, who was an English major at Stonehill, recalls Goulet as an influential teacher and a mentor.

“We shared a love of 18th century novels, film, theatre, and an enthusiastic sensibility. In later years we kept in touch and it was always wonderful to spend time with him. I could see what innovative teaching he was continuing and the way he introduced the classics...whether of past centuries or of a few decades inspire his many students. Stonehill was very privileged to have him on the faculty,” says Zawalich, the Administrator of Dudley House, the Graduate Student Center of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Harvard University.

In addition to watching movies and reading books, Goulet also enjoyed attending plays and opera, listening to music and watching soccer, with a fondness for Liverpool Football Club. He held degrees from Rhode Island College (Ed. B) and Brown University (M.A. & Ph.D).