Monday, September 04, 2006

Remembering & Celebrating Eric

Eric was a rare and wonderful human being. Everyone who had the pleasure of knowing him was struck by his kindness, generosity, nobility, honesty, insight, and sly sense of humor. He was an intellectual, an activist, a teacher, a rower, a devoted husband, brother, son and father, and the best of friends. We have created this blog to allow everyone to remember and to celebrate his life. Please share a story or memory about Eric.


Anonymous Michelle Kaye said...

Eric was the chair of my Division II committee and the most inspiring professor I have ever had. The journal I kept in his course American Literary Modernism is riddled with quotes and clever slogans. I hung on Eric's every word, in class and during our monthly meetings. Everytime I met with Eric I felt revitalized about literature, America and Hampshire College. The last time I met with him I asked Eric what I should be doing for my Div II other than classes and community service. He suggested, "I don't know...get a hobby? Be young?"

I wish younger Hampshire students could have had Eric as their teacher. It is a shame for all of them that they are missing the opportunity to meet a man who I honestly feel was one of the best things Hampshire had to offer its HACU students.

1:58 PM, September 05, 2006  
Anonymous Jonathan Williams said...

I never had the opportunity to know or be taught by Professor Schocket, but in the half hour since I learned of his death today, I have already had a friend come and talk to me about him and how deeply he already feels his loss. I find that very telling and I wish I had had the opportunity to get to know him.

Jonathan Williams

1:59 PM, September 05, 2006  
Blogger Chris Perry said...

I feel very lucky to have had Eric as a mentor and guide over the past two years, and I'm sorry that it can't continue. His gentle approach to leadership, his interest in hearing everyone's opinions, his passion for the college, his willingness to tackle hard problems, and his reliable (though not predictable!) sense of humor are things I will always remember.

I will also never forget the amazing stretch of blue sky that opened above me as I drove towards Bay State late Sunday afternoon. It had been grey and wet for days, and I was excited to share this hopeful sign with Eric when I got there.

But Eric left when that window opened. Or perhaps it was the other way around. Either way, the sky closed back up and I returned home under grey, hopeful in new ways for both Eric and the rest of us he's left behind.

6:35 PM, September 05, 2006  
Anonymous Alex Cuellar said...

My first advisor at Hampshire was Susan Tracy. Being a transfer student and a non-traditional, older student at Hampshire I think contributed to a malaise towards the division system and how I was to move through it. I don't know; I was really uptight about things I guess.

Towards the end of my first semester, Susan told me that she was going on sabbatical and I was really mad at her; she was my anchor to Hampshire at the time. She told me that while she would be gone, Eric was coming back from leave and that I should talk to him. I did as she suggested and waited for Eric outside his office with two requests: first, that he be my advisor and second that he let me into Cold War Culture, which was full. Eric wouldn't let me into Cold War Culture, but he did agree to advise me and be my Div II chair.

I learned more from him then I can fully understand that year and so I had no one else in mind for my Div III chair. Eric was more than that however. I don't know, somewhere between Modernism and Post-Modernism, between Hemingway and Pynchon, we became friends. It's always strange how those things come about, how mutual respect doesn't always foster a friendship, but I believe Eric was my friend, and I his, and that won't ever change. He believed in me and I believed in him. Plus, Eric sure had a way of tying a scarf around his was artful.

When I was working on my Div III, I told him that I didn't know if I could finish it, that I didn't feel qualified to write it. He told me that, while in grad school, he was writing an article on TS Eliot and he realized that he wasn't an Eliot scholar, that he didn't feel qualified to finish the article. "I was right, I wasn't an Eliot scholar. But I became one after I finished the article. And I realized that I don't qualify until I finish something. So finish the Div III; you'll find that your qualified once you do so."

I've told that story to many friends and some students and I will not stop telling it as long as I live. Selfishly, I wish Eric could see me get my MFA in Fiction next year but at the same time I know it isn't entirely selfish because he'd be really proud of me. But I will carry that story with me then, when I don't feel qualified, when I lag or don't want to write. I will finish and become qualified and I'll know that he'd be proud of me.

10:38 PM, September 05, 2006  
Anonymous Alan Wald said...

Alan Wald, University of Michigan--I met Eric only briefly and I knew him mainly by his superb scholarship and reputation. He was certainly among the radical scholars of his generation with whom I wanted to spend more time and with whom I hoped to collaborate. I greatly look forward to reading more by and about him.

6:20 AM, September 06, 2006  
Anonymous Jennifer Jackson, Fall '00 said...

I was standing at a public computer last fall at the Maine State Library when I opened an email from a friend at Hampshire saying that Eric had been diagnosed with leukemia. There I was, among all those quiet citizens, weeping into my sleeve. "Is everything okay, dear?" someone asked. "I hope so."

And now the same friend has sent another email, this time with the news we all dreaded, and instead I cry by myself. Memories seem so incomplete, and words to describe our loss seem so as well.

On my first day of class with Eric back in 2001, he did two very memorable things. First, he sat with his feet in the seat and his seat on the back of the chair. "Isn't that uncomfortable?" my neighbor asked. Then Eric announced, "If I'm not here on Tuesday, it's because my partner is having a baby tomorrow. Alex (Cuellar) will be here if I'm not." What an introduction. It was just a glimpse of his character, one I got to know well over the next three years.

I feel so fortunate to have known Eric, to have sat outside his closed office door under the word SCHOCKET, to have his name on my transcript, to have his guidance under my belt. I will miss him terribly, but will remember him fondly, for all that he gave to us.

7:16 AM, September 06, 2006  
Anonymous Stephan Edel said...

I took two classes with Eric and the best part was getting to know him after classes and at campus activities. He was a bright light in my experience at Hampshire. Eric sat on my Div 2 comittee and pushed me to improve it and to a level in my work that I hadn't felt I could achieve. He was always there with a brilliant observation or a clever often funny comment.

7:17 AM, September 06, 2006  
Anonymous Jenny Valeri said...

One of my first classes at Hampshire was the 20th Century American Novel with Eric. I managed to learn the difference between realism, modernism, and postmodernism (complete with discussion of monkey dust) by the end of the course. Going through some old things today, I found a quote I had written down, Eric telling us not to use 'sparkle notes' (what he thought was called at the time).

I wouldn't say I stood out by any means in his class, still shy and overwhelmed by my own thoughts surrounding the literature, but he always encouraged me to speak up, and with my written work, took genuine interest in my ideas.

He was a good man who knew his stuff, and that is for certain. He won't soon be forgotten.

9:05 PM, September 06, 2006  
Anonymous Marsha Taichman said...

A huge loss indeed. Eric will be missed and missed and missed. What an incredible man, an inspiring teacher and a great scholar. He was one of the most generous people that I knew with his time and knowledge.

Christoph, or anyone, is there a time and place for the funeral this Sunday?

8:56 AM, September 07, 2006  
Anonymous eliza said...

I am stunned to hear this news. I was able to visit Eric in the hospital in June. I hadn't seen him since I graduated in 2000 and I was so nervous about seeing him sick. When I got to the hospital, however, despite not having seen Eric for six years we immediately fell back into the easy conversation we used to have as professor and student back at Hampshire. I stayed for three hours and I learned about all of the things that had been going on with him over the years, and he listened to me tell stories of my post-Hampshire life. I remember leaving and not really feeling sad at all, in fact, I couldn't remember the last time I had even had such a wonderful conversation with someone. It was the kind of conversation where I didn't even notice that I had been sitting for three hours in a hospital room wearing a mask--it didn't matter. I was so hopeful that he would recover, as was he. I cannot believe that this man is gone from the world. My thoughts are with his family. He will be greatly missed by many.

2:16 PM, September 07, 2006  
Anonymous Sean Bishop said...

I met with, phoned, or wrote to Eric just about every day (OK, at least once or twice a week) for my last two years at Hampshire. No one knew it at the time, but these turned out to be Eric’s last two years in the classroom, as well. My library carrel was filled with books pulled directly from Eric’s shelf, loaned to me without any second thoughts or conditions. Eric’s insight and scholarship so influenced my studies that at times I wondered if my work was mine at all, or if I might be regurgitating what Eric had taught me.

No one was more persistent in dissuading me from this thought than Eric himself. Even as my teacher, he always treated me like a peer, and as I became more and more engrossed in my studies, I came to think of Eric this way, as well. But there were still moments when I felt like his shadow. As the T.A. for “Literature & Culture of the 1930s,” I often suspected the other students imagined I was Eric’s mini-me. He and I thought the same, we talked the same, we were both perplexingly excited about socialist doggerel … we even looked a bit alike.

For two years, I worried about being Eric’s double. Now I just wish he were still here for me to emulate. Of anyone I met at Hampshire, without exaggeration, Eric was the most dedicated to social issues, scholarship, and the future of Hampshire College and its students. No one seemed to me more solid, or less destructible. And so it’s very difficult for me to imagine that he’s gone. But he is.

The night after I learned of Eric’s death, I dreamed that I had written a book, and that today was the day I had to deliver it to the publishers. Except there was a problem: mysteriously, half of the book had gone missing. I remembered writing it, but couldn’t for the life of me remember what I had written, and I felt that it would be impossible for me to write it again.

Many of us have felt very empty these past few days, knowing that Eric is no longer here to egg us on; recommending books, forwarding articles, and just generally reassuring us of our own potential and worth. But I think it’s most important that we honor him by continuing on the paths he helped set for us, only a little more diligently than before.

Eric had only just begun to prove his brilliance to the larger world, but those of us who knew him and worked with him will continue on as his legacy, fighting the battles that he would have fought if only he’d been allowed the time.

11:45 AM, September 08, 2006  
Anonymous Julian Markels said...

I knew Eric as a fellow marxist scholar, and he became a big presence in my life mainly through e-mail. We actually met only a few times, but the nourishing warmth of his intelligence, generosity, and wit in those brief conversations carried over into our e-mail criticisms and suggestions for improving each other's manuscripts. Eric's enormously knowledgeable and incisive suggestions were indispensable to improving my thinking and writing, and our exchanges kept enlarging my intellectual horizons.

His thinking and writing never needed much improving that I could see, and when he sent me the manuscript of Vanishing Moments, I expected a lot. But my expectations were dwarfed by this landmark book. As I wrote him at the time,its analysis is "so original, incisive, comprehensive, and deep that no student of American literature and culture in that period will be able to ignore it," which is next to unheard of for a book of marxist interpretation. And when Eric described to me on the phone his project for a second book, I felt like I was witnessing the emergence of a really great cultural scholar. In my experience, not all scholars are also serious thinkers, and not all serious thinkers are also marxists. Eric was a scholar, thinker, and marxist whose loss is intellectual as well as so deeply personal.

Julian Markels

12:26 PM, September 10, 2006  
Blogger Lisa Henderson said...

On behalf of the CISA community:

It was with shock and sadness that I learned of Eric's death on September 3rd. In his recent correspondence, Hampshire President Ralph Hexter has acknowledged Eric's many contributions to Hampshire and the Five Colleges; I would like to acknowledge his gifts to CISA (the Five College Center for Crossroads in the Study of the Americas), as participating faculty member and Hampshire representative to the Executive Committee during Robbie Schwartzwald's tenure as director.

Eric was committed to CISA's goals of exploring political formation and identity in the Americas, to introducing students to the enormous range that is "American Literature," and guiding them in the development of their intellect and scholarly craft. He was an especially generous contributor to
the character and co-ordination of CISA's annual undergraduate research symposium, and established the model for student participation now in place.

In the early Spring of 2000, I was working in the library at the University of Warwick, reading a just-published special issue of PMLA on "Re-reading Class." I opened the journal to find Eric's wonderful essay "`Discovering
Some New Race': Rebecca Harding Davis's `Life in the Iron Mills' and the Literary Emergence of Working-Class Whiteness." Thus began a conversation between us about class cultures, an analysis Eric kept on the table in
CISA's activities. Eric was an incisive, generous, and gentle colleague, deeply unself-promoting. I had to discover our mutual interest at a library
in the UK, and am very grateful for later conversations with Eric back at Five Colleges.

It is impossible to adequately recognize such an important colleague, but at CISA we will think hard about what we might do to sustain his commitments
and honor his contributions, especially to our undergraduate research activities. We extend our sympathies to Hampshire colleagues, to Eric's
many appreciative students, and especially to his family.

Lisa Henderson
CISA Director

10:55 AM, September 13, 2006  
Anonymous Gwynne Watkins said...

I loved many of my Hampshire classes, but Eric's Literary Modernism class was among the best. I took it in my first year and I remember thinking, "this is everything I was hoping a college class would be." He was a wonderful man and I know he will be missed dearly by the Hampshire community.

2:43 PM, September 14, 2006  
Anonymous Karim Khan said...

I just opened a Hampshire newsletter and saw mention of this in the Memorials section...I can't believe it, I didn't know he was sick. I guess there is no way I would have known, I entered Hampshire in F97 as a transfer student and graduated in 2000. Eric is among the professors I remember most, and most fondly. He chaired my Div I committee and his course, The American Canon in Context, introduced me to The Great Gatsby, on which he helped me edit a long paper, and my favorite short story, Bartleby the Scrivener. He sat on my Div II committee, and somehow I have a lot of memories of funny and intelligent things he said, whereas other professors just faded away from my memory with time. He made me feel glad I had come to Hampshire.

Right now I'm applying to grad school so I just got a copy of my Hampshire transcript to look over and I've been thinking of Eric. He was so funny and quirky-cool and kind of subversive without compromising any of his academic credentials. It's nice to read that he was a lasting influence on lots of other people as well. I hope his family knows how much he is missed.

4:00 PM, September 14, 2006  
Anonymous Stephanie Luce said...

It has taken me awhile to write this because I felt so shocked and devastated by the news. I met Eric about 6 or 7 years ago, when I came to UMass to teach. I met Eric through a mutual friend, who knew that we shared similar political interests. Since that time Eric and I saw each other regularly at political meetings, and talked frequently about how to engage in activist work in the valley. Eric was from a very different academic field, so I learned a lot from him; at the same time, our political perspectives easily crossed over our academic work. We both were eager to find ways to teach that inspired our students into fighting for social and economic justice.

Over the last year Eric said that his experiences in the hospital and with the medical field helped him feel he had found his true calling in political activism. He was committed to working on health care issues, and was particularly angry at the blatant inequalities he witnessed at some of the hospitals: seeing first-hand how race and class had a huge impact on health care access and treatment. Eric told me that he was looking forward to getting back out in the world to organize around this issue. He said that even in the area of bone-marrow donations, there was a great imbalance in the available matches for people of color.

I got to visit Eric at his home in August. We took a long walk and talked about his ideas for a new book. I was so impressed that he seemed so much better, and truly on his way to recovery. I was happy to meet Alison, Ben and Margo. I left planning to come back soon to talk about more about Eric's work and potential political projects. It was just such a shock to get the terrible news.

I am still in denial that Eric is really gone. Despite his illness, he was so alive, and made such an important contribution to Hampshire and the valley, and to his field. There are a lot of progressive faculty in the 5-college area, but few who really take seriously the challenge of mentoring students politically. I will really miss him.

Stephanie Luce
UMass-Amherst Labor Center

8:52 AM, September 15, 2006  
Anonymous Rebecca Saunders said...

I was struggling with writing my Div III thesis in 1997. Eric, after some unsuccessful attempts to get me re-engaged with the material, told me the story of writing his dissertation.

He said he'd started to keep a writing journal when the actual writing of the dissertation got stuck. Before each writing session, he'd start with his writing journal -- document struggles, fears, problems, etc. -- and then move into the work itself.

After he finished his dissertation, he drove across country. He imagined it would be so cathartic to read the journal to see how he'd grown and changed over the course of his long study!

What he discovered was that the journal was all the same beginning to end -- writing is always hard, always a struggle, pretty much always frustrating. And that's the point.

Man, I've given this advice to so many people it isn't funny.

Schockett was one of my favorite Hampshire professors and that says a lot because I learned so much about life and learning at Hampshire.

When I found out he was ill, I sent him one of my favorite Hafiz poems, because it reminds me of his great verve:
All your worry
Has proved such an
Find a better

9:03 AM, September 15, 2006  
Anonymous John Spence said...

Eric was my advisor at Hampshire when I arrived after two years at a more traditional liberal arts college. When I got to Hampshire I wasn't really sure what direction I wanted to continue in and was a little burnt out by some of the frustrations and annoyances of higher education. Eric was great in providing advice but not trying to push in one direction or another.

I was fortunate enough to take a few of his classes and get the chance to talk to him a bit. He always struck me as very bright but also funny, personable, and thoroughly decent. I had heard through the grapevine that he was sick and that his chances didn't look good. Like everyone I was hoping for an amazing turnaround...but sometimes I guess we have to be thankful for what he have and had in times before. My thoughts and condolences go out to the entire Hampshire community and to Eric's friends and family.

12:12 PM, September 15, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have known Eric for a long time, in many different capacities. We attended Elementary, Middle, Junior High and High School together. We took piano lessons together. I worked for his mother. I haven't seen Eric in 10 years but I still feel his loss greatly. More than anything, Eric will always be the boy who was willing to skate the couples skate with an awkward, overweight sixth grade girl just because he was a friend and a good guy.

Laurel Remers Pardee

1:00 PM, September 18, 2006  
Anonymous dave fleishman said...

Whew. I just found out about Eric today. I haven't had any contact with Eric for close to 20 years. Eric was my college roommate, and before that, a very good high school friend. I first recall meeting Eric the summer before our high school freshman year, where he was an already very promising runner, who ultimately made the varsity cross-country team as a freshman, a high honor. We ran hundreds if not thousands of miles together under the blazing Arizona sun. It was Eric who drove me home four hours from the hospital after I blew out my knee skiing. We traveled in Spain and Italy together, staggering in terribly drunk into a five-star hotel in Madrid after a heated barroom discussion with expatriate Americans about the impact of American culture on rural Spain. We visited colleges together, both finally settling on Berkeley. We spent long evenings in cafes, bars and our living room debating all manner of current events. He was my "professor" at Cal in a student academic program called "De-Cal", which permitted students to teach classes to fellow students, and which engendered in me a love for Spanish poetry and history.

Eric and I spent one evening on our motorcycles driving through San Francisco, looking in North Beach bookstores and bars and other places for evidence of the continuing existence of "The American Dream." We finally found "The American Dream" at City Lights Bookstore in the form of a rubber stamp, emblazoned with those precise words, in the stylized lettering of a 60s rock poster. We wondered if The American Dream could have been reduced to just that, a rubber stamp, and we laughed at the incredible irony of it all. We ended up in an all-night rib joint in a bad part of town at 2am where the owner wondered about the two, as he put it, "crazy white boys" who were celebrating finding the American Dream. I still have that rubber stamp.

There are many more personal stories I recall of Eric that are probably not appropriate for the eternal archive that is the internet, but suffice to state, Eric lived his life fully during the brief years I spent with him. I have little doubt that he continued on that course throughout his life. I am sad for the loss his passing brings to those who knew and loved him. --Dave Fleishman

5:26 AM, September 19, 2006  
Blogger Film School Dean said...

Wow. Just heard about Eric's passing today, and realize how out of it I've been. I was at Hampshire from 94-98, and when my advisor, Alan Hodder, started pushing me towards finding someone else to help read my Div 2, I ransacked the school for another bright, young, inspiring and creative professor of literature. eric was brand new, and I think we were cautious of each other.

I remember Eric's office, formerly held by philosopher Jay Garfield, and his gentle fury when trying to hold meetingswith students while a group of decidedly less literate people decided to use the BARCO projector to BLAST the complete Star Wars trilogy right outside his office.

I remember running into Eric in bars, or at the Academy of Music movie theatre, and being thrilled to see him, but quiet and uncertain of what to say.

Eric turned down my request to Chair my div 3, but as my second reader, was Remarkably more helpful to me than the chair I had to use during Hodder's sabbatical. He was still too new to feel comfortable in a leadership role, it seemed, but he was clearly an intellectual, moral, and approachable pillar of support for Hampshire's Humanities students seeking to be more involved with their reading.

I am deeply saddened by this loss, and am deeply grateful to have known and benefited from Eric's unique method and style and focus of instruction.

11:29 AM, September 19, 2006  
Anonymous Lee Medovoi said...

For the last two weeks I've been crushed to hear that Eric died, and I send all my love and sympathy to the many lives he clearly touched, to the others who miss him too. I became friends with Eric some 14 years ago in graduate school, when we were both living in San Francisco. At the time, our friendship was light and simple. We'd hook up for drinks or a movie, maybe a hike in the redwoods or on Mt. Tam, followed by a fine steak. But some years later, when I found myself struggling on the academic job market, Eric proved one of the most courageous and loyal of all my friends, calling me regularly, speaking and listening with confident sympathy. It was then I began to appreciate Eric's willingness to face and admit weakness and shame, mine or his, which is itself such a paradoxical strength. I think his political conviction stemmed in part from his rich appreciation for human vulnerability, and his marxist erudition from where he felt his intellect might shed the most socially important light. We kept in touch over the years, occasionally even saw one another, though we were fated to live on opposite sides of the country. I was always moved by Eric's deep loyalty to his partner Alison, his children, students, friends, and interlocutors. Eric called me early on with the news that he had leukemia and, over the last year, we kept up as best we could. I appreciated his openness of spirit, whether about admitting fear for his own life, or expressing what he had learned about the politics of health in his hospitals. I wish I could have seen him one more time. I did let him know how much I loved him before he went, and for that I'm grateful. But I will miss him more than I can possibly express. My beloved friend, what more can I say?

2:09 PM, September 20, 2006  
Anonymous Ena Panteluk Stewart said...

Eric and I were together at a time before adult responsiblity and limited possibilities crept into our being.
I still see him forever etched in my mind that first day of AP English. I had just moved from Michigan and I was starting my senior year in this strange new school. Seating was alphabetical and as he passed by me I remember him walking, or was it gliding...A vision in his trade mark leather jacket, white tee shirt with some red target thing painted on it, and well worn blue jeans. At that moment time and reason shattered and the explosion roared in my ears.(High School Drama) I was struck by the preverbal lightning bolt. Later he would write his phone number in my copy of GREAT EXPECTATIONS. Sentiment has never let me discard that book. We shared amazing adventures and a soul connection that has guided and inspired my life to this day.
My only regret was not going with Eric and Dave the night they snuck into the Santana concert in Spain.
The love expressed in this memorial of the lives he has touched comes as no suprise to me. The world has lost a light that served as a beacon for so many. His transition will be guided by his kindness, generosity and love. My heart goes out to his family and I can only imagine the pain and loss that they are going through as the mourn their son, brother, husband and father. My own feelings have been tempered by twenty years of no contact only to discover that the love had not left me it had just settled comfortably in my soul.

1:42 PM, September 24, 2006  
Anonymous Chris Hammond said...

I saw Eric about 16 years ago and lost touch with him shortly after. Out of sheer curiosity last month, I googled him and saw a hit mentioning his cancer. I should have tried to reconnect with him on the spot but foolishly procrastinated a few weeks. When I finally got around to it, I googled again only to find that I had waited too late.

Eric and I were classmates at Berkeley. In our freshmen year, we took a Comp Lit class together and became fast friends. I have many fond memories including great conversations; his helping me move; studying for exams; banding with others to create The Old Blue Review--a vanity lit mag for our poems, short stories, and artwork; playing racquetball, taking in the San Francisco Symphony on cut-rate student tickets; catching live jazz; and tooling around Paris and Versailles with him and Jill Lave the summer after we graduated. I remember him caring enough just to drop by my place just to see how I was doing--he was very empathetic.

We talked a lot about what careers we wanted to pursue. As undergraduates we had our first exposure to post-modernist and other critical theories. Such study raised questions about meaning. On occasion, we would even discuss matters of faith and religion. Once, he suggested that I consider becoming a minister. At the time it seemed absurd--I was more inclined to becoming an English professor. But, as it turns out, about 11 years later, I did become a Presbyterian minister. In making that decision, Eric's words came back to me. So I give thanks to God for the life of Eric Schocket and ask for God to comfort his family during this difficult time.

4:23 PM, September 26, 2006  
Anonymous Rob Latham said...

I've been just devastated since I heard the news about Eric. We had lost touch since we both graduated from Stanford, and now I deeply regret that. I should have made more of an effort to stay connected. It's so stunning and hard to believe that now that won't be possible.

Eric was a good and generous friend, fun to be with, smart, and an all-around pleasure to know. We lived near each other in San Francisco for several years and used to often play pool at Blondie's or grab drinks at one of the odd little dives in the Mission and the Lower Haight. Eric would take the lead in organizing more ambitious outings, like bonfires on the beach or day-long hikes through Muir woods, culminating in a huge steak BBQ. He had such a big appetite for life and always seemed to be really enjoying himself. I'm going to miss his warmth and good spirits more than I can say.

10:52 AM, October 01, 2006  
Anonymous Sheila Sundar said...

Like so many, I met Eric after pleading my way into his Cold War Culture course in 2002. The time I spent in his class and speaking with him informally in his office changed my thinking in so many critical ways. My Div II had nothing to do with American Studies, but I pleaded a second time with Eric, this time to have him on my committee.

As I sat in his office trying to connect these seamingly fragmented interests that would eventually become a Division II project, Eric assured me that the world of inquiry is connected in ways that make us students of absolutely everything.

In particular, Eric's passion in history led me eventually to the same area of study. The conversations I had with him replayed as I pursued my own career as a history teacher.
Eric taught the chapters of history most often neglected at all stages, from elementary school to college. He helped me make it my goal to uncover these, to teach what is so often not written down, and to do it with the sort of passion that is contagious. His ideas were radical, and he taught history as a scholar and an activist. And he helped so many of us become those same wonderful things.

6:12 PM, October 10, 2006  
Blogger eli kaplan said...

Eric Schocket was a wonderful teacher and an even greater man. I had the privilege of working with Eric while I was a student at Hampshire from ’96 – ’00. I took a “Cold War Culture” class with him, and later he became my advisor. Eric was refreshingly caring, sincere, and honest. But what I loved most about Eric was his incredible enthusiasm for teaching. He was always so prepared and excited for class. Perhaps these seem like necessary or given qualities for a professor, but Eric was head and shoulders above any teacher I’ve ever had, in this regard. He demanded so much from his students. He always expected more from them, and wanted them to strive for nothing less than the best for themselves, as students, but more importantly as people. I always found it difficult not to rise up and meet Eric’s lofty expectations, because all that he demanded from his students, he demanded, first and foremost, from himself. His enthusiasm for life was contagious to all those he came in contact with. I consider myself extremely lucky to have known him. He was a special man that I will always remember.

2:44 PM, October 20, 2006  
Blogger Benjamin Robinson said...

When I first got to know Eric in a Herbie Lindenberger seminar at Stanford, he was getting himself embroiled in typical grad school debates over identity politics, willlingly (or naively) taking the bait and honestly not seeing why he shoud grant to some identity a privileged victim status; which of course pissed some people off despite his obvious lack of rancor. But Eric's gentle insistence carried the day with me and others around me, his politics increasingly apparent (to me at least) in his inclusive attitude and sympathies with Marxism and working class literature. When I became reacquainted with Eric several years later we were both living around 16th and Valencia in the Mission, and Eric was together with Alison. They were fun and generous hosts of dinners at their appartment, and frequent drinking companions at the Mission bars. There was also the inevitable shoptalk; I still remember mulling over Eric's questions about the history of the figure of the "hand" in various literary traditions. Then there were Eric's b-day bonfires on Ocean Beach, where, after just enough alcohol had been consumed, the inevitable challenge to run into the cold night water would be issued, and we'd be off. The company was always eccletic, the mood relaxed and even wondrous--what an insanely beautiful time and place that windy, urban beach was in the early 1990s. At some point, before Eric and Alison got married, I succumbed to my own demons for a while and fell off the map. When I reemerged Eric and Alison were off at Hampshire, and I'd see him occasionally at the MLA and hear news from mutual friends, especially about the birth of their kids. Later, at a shaky point in my own career, Eric looked me up out of the blue to referee a ms., a gesture--a hand--that touched me a whole lot. I'll of course continue to regret that I wasn't able to see Eric again before he died. I'll always remember him dearly.

1:16 PM, November 16, 2006  
Anonymous David Schmid said...

Like everybody else, I was shocked to hear the news about Eric's death, not only because we naively never think of people of our own generation passing (after all, we're all meant to be invulnerable, right?) but also because he was such a larger than life character. We came into grad school at Stanford in the same year, 1989, Eric in English and me in Modern Thought and Literature. We took a number of classes together and I really appreciated the way Eric was so at ease with himself and didn't feel the need to front. In this way, as in many others, he was a rarity in our profession. I'll miss him.

1:56 PM, November 18, 2006  
Anonymous teresa orourke said...

I know (my husband) David will add his thoughts soon. Like everyone here, we were shocked by the news, even though we knew of his illness and last spoke with him in August.

The two words that I associate with Eric are: funny and sweet. I remember going for a hike and halfway through the day hearing him fantasize about the possibility of a carful of hamburgers waiting for us at the end of the trail (funny). I remember how happy he was when he first told us about Alison (sweet). I am so glad to have known him and even more grateful that he was such a good friend to David. We miss him.

12:36 PM, November 29, 2006  
Anonymous Jess Clarke said...

I babysat for Ben and Margot for three years while I was an undergrad at Smith. I have babysat for a lot of families, and Eric and Alison were one of the nicest that I've ever known. No matter how busy they were, and even when Eric was diagnosed and they were stressed and spending a lot of time at the hospital, they always asked how I was and seemed to truly care about the answer. Eric was funny and thoughtful and always had interesting comments about the classes I was taking and the professors we knew in common.

I'm not in town anymore, which is why it took me so long to discover this site, but Alison, if you read this, I am so sorry for your loss. Eric was a great man and you are a wonderful family. My thoughts are with you and the kids.

8:26 PM, January 29, 2007  
Anonymous Carlos Lossada said...

Eric was my roommate in Salamanca, Spain in 1984. I only found out about his passing a few days ago. My deepest condolences go out to his wife and children. Also, my condolences go out to his mother, sister, friends, and everyone else who was touched by Eric. He was a great man and a great friend.

I met Eric on the a flight from New York to Madrid in January of 1984. He had graduated one semester early from high school so that he could study abroad. I was a junior in college at the time and little did I know that this young 17 year old high school student would be my roommate and an unforgettable friend. In fact, at first I didn't want to hangout with him. He seemed so young and we came from such different worlds. I didn't think that we would have much in common. I was very wrong.

Eric was incredibly bright and insightful. He was a loyal friend and he had a sense of humor that made living with a rather unusual Spanish family a great deal of fun. We would laugh when the mother of the family would change her baby's diaper on the dining room table then put our breakfast down with bothering to wipe the table off. I can still remember our first morning at their very small apartment when I heard Eric literally scream from the cold water in the shower. We found out later that morning that you had to light the water heater in the kitchen before taking a shower. In fact, the shower became a kind of recurring issue with the family because Eric was a runner and often times liked to run in the afternoon. Therefore, there were many times where he would take more than one shower a day. This was strange for them and they often complained about it. Eric and I laughed about this because showering was not something that they seemed to do on a regular basis. We did enjoy living with them but it was an adventure.

There are so many memories of us laughing and enjoying ourselves in Spain that I couldn't begin to list them all. However, one of the most memorable ones is when we stole some Spanish flags that were out on the highway in honor of the King of Spain's visit to Salamanca. Eric and I decided that the flags would make good souvenirs of our stay in Spain so we borrowed pliers from the family and set out to get them. Eric and I were about the same height and he had to stand on my shoulders with the pliers to cut the flags down. I remember he was laughing so hard (as was I) which made it really hard to get the job done. We ran back to the apartment with these large flags on wooden poles feeling like we had pulled off this amazing heist.

There are many other stories like when we did some bullfighting with baby bulls, rat hunting by the river, travelling all around Spain, and always being up for the next adventure. Through it all Eric did very well in his classes and was able to speak fluent Spanish even though he'd only had two semesters of high school Spanish.

With all the fun that we had, I was most impressed by his intellect. He read Don Quixote in Spanish while we were there. He excelled in his Art History class and taught me a thing or two. He absorbed the culture, was very politically aware, and was always up for any adventure. But what I remember most was that he was a great and loyal friend. He was always there when I was down and he was someone you could count on. I have two brothers but I always considered Eric to my third brother. He meant that much to me.

I'm sorry that I did not keep closer contact with him during his illness. He sounded so hopeful regarding the bone marrow transplant. Eric Schocket is someone that I could never forget. He was that unique and special. I'm glad that I had a chance to reconnect with him. I will always remember him as someone who impacted my life deeply. Thank you for being such a great friend Eric. You will always be a part of my life.

9:45 AM, May 23, 2007  
Anonymous オテモヤン said...


6:31 AM, February 07, 2010  
Blogger Jo said...

I am heartbroken that it's taken four years for me to learn of Eric's death. I adored him as a professor, he inspired me and above all made me feel very smart and very capable just by listening to my thoughts. It changed my life.

I know it's been years and probably no one's reading this, but I hope his children and wife carry with them the knowledge that their father's spirit lives on in what he inspires in all of us who had the honor of being his students.

Thanks to Eric for all you gave me and others, thanks for being my favorite professor and opening up a new world for me.

10:22 PM, July 10, 2010  

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