Paul J. Korshin, 65, Penn professor

Posted: March 04, 2005

Paul J. Korshin, 65, of Wyncote, a scholar, author and teacher of 18th-century British literature at the University of Pennsylvania, died of complications from treatment for a bone-marrow transplant Wednesday at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.

An elegant figure in tailored Savile Row suits and bow ties, Dr. Korshin was a popular lecturer at Penn for nearly 40 years.

"It was difficult to find classrooms big enough to hold the hundreds of students who wanted to take his course, 'Madness and Literature,' " colleague John Richetti said.

After earning a bachelor's degree in 1961 from City College of New York and a doctorate in 1966 from Harvard, both in English literature, Dr. Korshin began teaching at Penn, where his wit and flamboyance enthralled students.

A bon vivant with great epicurean passion, Dr. Korshin was known as a gracious entertainer and gourmet cook.

At a brown-bag faculty lunch meeting, Dr. Korshin's colleagues looked in awe as he served himself duck al'orange on a porcelain plate and a bottle of claret from a wicker basket.

"Paul carried his world with him," said Robert Lucid, professor emeritus. "That little hamper: It's a perfect symbol."

"Despite his aristocratic manner and tastes, he was a democrat with a small 'd,' outraged by injustice and inequity," Richetti said.

An internationally known scholar, Dr. Korshin wrote several books and founded the American Society for Eighteenth Century Studies. He also spearheaded the English Short Title Catalog, one of the first comprehensive online databases of works printed before 1800.

Dr. Korshin founded and edited The Age of Johnson: A Scholarly Annual, a 15-volume set of more than 8,000 pages. He was proofreading Volume 16 in his hospital room.

Dr. Korshin is survived by his wife of seven years, Joan Pataky-Kosove; a stepson, Andrew Kosove; a stepdaughter, Alexis Moran; a step-grandson; two brothers; and his former wife, Debra Thomas.

A memorial service will be held later at the University of Pennsylvania.

Contact staff writer Gayle Ronan Sims at 215-854-4185 or gsims@phillynews.com. To ask a question of Sims, go to http://go.philly.com/obituary.

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