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Rita K. Gollin was born on January 22, 1928 in Brooklyn, NY. She attended Queens College for undergraduate studies before earning her Ph.D. in English from the University of Minnesota in 1961. Gollin is Distinguished Professor Emerita of English at the State University of New York at Geneseo. Gollin is a scholar of the life and works of Nathaniel Hawthorne, on whom she has authored several books and many articles. Her 1979 book, Nathaniel Hawthorne and the Truth of Dreams, published by the Louisiana State University Press, is consistently included on Hawthorne bibliographies. Her later publications pursued visual-textual studies, focusing on the iconography of Hawthorne portraiture, and a biography of Hawthorne's publisher's wife, "Annie Adams Fields, Woman of Letters." Gollin has also edited scholarly editions of Hawthorne's best-known novel, The Scarlet Letter. Her awards and services include NEH grants, and Presidencies of the Nathaniel Hawthorne Society and of the Northeast MLA.
Upon retirement, Gollin endowed the Rita K. Gollin Scholarship for Excellence in American Literature with the Department of English at Geneseo. The award goes to one graduating senior and one junior who have demonstrated excellence in the study of American Literature.