Jenijoy La Belle

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Jenijoy La Belle
Jenijoy La Belle 1978.png
Jenijoy La Belle in 1978
OccupationProfessor of English, Emeritus
Academic background
Alma materUniversity of Washington, University of California, San Diego
Academic work

Jenijoy La Belle is an American professor of English literature at California Institute of Technology. Hired in 1969, she became the first female professor in Caltech history.[1] She is known for her fight to attain tenure in the early '70s, also at Caltech. In 1979 she was granted tenure.[2]


Raised in Olympia, WA, JeniJoy attended Olympia High School. After high school she attended the University of Washington in Seattle where she received a BA in English in 1965. In 1969 she received a PhD from the University of California, San Diego. Her PhD thesis concerned the poetry of Theodore Roethke. That same year she applied and was hired as the first female professor at Caltech.[2]

Landmark Caltech tenure case[edit]

In 1969 Jenijoy began teaching at Caltech, making her the first female professor in Caltech history. In 1974 the English department recommended her for tenure. The decision was overturned by the division chair, economic historian Robert Huttenback. After filing a complain with the EEOC and with the support of several notable academics, including Richard Feynman and Robert F. Christy she was finally awarded tenure in 1979.[2] (Olga Taussky Todd, who was a research associate at Caltech (from 1957 to 1971 received tenure in 1963, but only became a full professor in 1971.)[3]

Published works[edit]

In 1975 she co-authored with Robert N. Essick Night Thoughts or the Complaint and the Consolation Illustrated by William Blake. In 1976 she published Herself Beheld: The Literature of the Looking Glass. In 1977 she again joined with Robert N. Essick to publish Flaxman's Illustrations to Homer. In 2015 she published The Echoing Wood of Theodore Roethke.[2]


  1. ^ BARBER, MARY (1987-11-15). "Females See Real Selves, Author Says : Caltech Scholar Reflects on Women and Mirrors". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 2016-12-29.
  2. ^ a b c d Aspaturian, Heidi (Dec 1, 2010). "Interview with Jenijoy La Belle". CaltechOralHistories. Caltech.
  3. ^ Caltech catalog; OT-T oral history, Caltech archives

External links[edit]