January 03, 2018

James Osen, Corlis Professor of History

Professor Emeritus of History James L. Osen died on Aug. 6, 2017, at age 82 in Verona, Wis.
  • Photo by: Dennis Moore
    Dennis Moore

Osen began teaching at Beloit in 1962. By the time he retired 35 years later, he held the college’s George Russell Corlis Chair in History.

Osen’s areas of expertise were French and European history. During his Beloit tenure in the late 1960s, Osen served as a faculty fellow at the esteemed Newberry Library in Chicago, where he studied pamphlets from the French Revolution. He was most interested in researching the publications that defended the monarchy during the revolution, and he published a book on royalist political thought during that period. He did extensive research at the British Library and the National Library in Paris and spent more than 15 years researching and writing a book on the life of Adolphe Monod, an early 19th century French Protestant pastor and professor of theology.

Osen earned his B.A. from Western Michigan University, his master’s degree from the University of Michigan, and his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Before starting his Ph.D. program, Osen briefly taught English literature at Lincoln Park High School in Lincoln Park, Mich.

In 1991, he was named Teacher of the Year at Beloit. When Osen retired and received the honor of emeritus status, his citation noted that despite his career-long interest in that fiery period of European history—the French Revolution—students knew him for his “spirit of gentleness and cooperation.”

Osen is survived by his wife of 58 years, Meta, two sons, and three grandsons. The family asks friends and former students to consider donating to the Beloit College Library Memorial Fund in his memory.

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