MONIQUE J. LEMAITRE LEON
{ "" }
Share
Share MONIQUE's life story with friends and family
Send an Email
Or Copy this URL to Share
LEMAITRE LEON
MONIQUE J.
Age 81, of Pittsburgh, after a long illness, on November 5, 2015. A Mexican of French and Spanish heritage, born in Mexico City, Dr. Lemaître's lengthy list of scholarly achievements reflects her brilliant mind and relentless ardor for academic inquiry in numerous subjects: First and Second French "Baccalauréats," Lycée Franco-Mexicain, Mexico City, Mexico; National University of Mexico, Political Sciences; 1965: B.A. French/Spanish, (Magna Cum Laude), University of Pittsburgh; 1966, M.A. French Literature, University of Pittsburgh; 1974, Ph.D. Latin American Literatures, University of Pittsburgh. As a professor emerita, she retired in 2004 after an esteemed career of 20 years as Doctor of Latin American Literature and Language at the University of Northern Illinois in DeKalb, Illinois. Preceding that tenure, she taught as an assistant professor, visiting professor, instructor and director in a vast variety of venues, including Interamerican University of Puerto Rico; Ohio Wesleyan University; Tufts University; School for International Training of the Experiment for International Living in Brattleboro, Vermont; Boston College; Lyceo Franco-Mexicano in Mexico City; Instituto Mexicano-Norteamericano de Relaciones Culturales, Mexico City, and Ecole Française Internationale, Washington D.C. Dr. Lemaître published five books and some 20 articles in the most renowned journals in her field in the United States and Latin America, as well as a variety of chapters in book compilations, including three she co-edited or edited. Her scholarly work has focused on a variety of canonical writers of Latin America, including Roberto Fernandez Retamar (Cuba), Ángeles Mastretta (Mexico), Isabel Allende (Chile), Carlos Fuentes (Mexico), Julio Cortazar (Argentina), Elena Garro (Mexico), Roque Dalton (El Salvador), Elena Poniatowska (Mexico), Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Colombia) and Jorge Luis Borges (Argentina). She has also written about the Spanish novelist Juan Goytisolo. Her first book, a revision of her 1974 dissertation written at the University of Pittsburgh, was published in 1976 by U.N.A.M. [Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico]. This book analyzed the poetry and poetics of the Mexican writer Octavio Paz (1914-98), who received the Nobel Prize in 1990. Lemaitre's study analyzes the poetic praxis and theory of Paz's work, uncovering the various cultural, spiritual and geographic characteristics of his poetry, and contextualizing Paz within the literary movements of the 20th Century. Lemaître's literary criticism also focused on the topic of women's liberation in Latin America, a topic of great scholarly and personal conviction. Her study, Skármeta: una Narrativa de la Liberación (Santiago: Pehuen, 1991) was inspired by Skármeta's realistic and lyrical depiction of a key event of the Sandinista Revolution in the late seventies. In Skármeta: una Narrativa de la Liberación, she was particularly interested in analyzing how the Chilean author's novels and short stories suggest ways of reinvigorating the fight for women's liberation in Latin American societies. Lemaitre's reading stresses the need for male participation in the process for equal rights in the continent, following Skármeta's own implications in his fiction. Lemaître's testimonial account of Mexican activist Elvia Carrillo Puerto in Elvia Carrillo Puerto: la Monja Raja del Mayab (Monterey: Ediciones Castillo, 1998) drew praise from the celebrated writer Elena Poniatowska. In the prologue to the first edition, Poniatowska wrote that Elvia Carrillo Puerto was a logical subject for Lemaitre because both women valued social activism and demonstrated unusual degrees of devotion to their causes. Professor Lemaître's interest in testimonial literature carried over into the classroom where her courses on the topic were highly regarded by students. Lemaître's publications include a collection of 12 of her essays, published as Texturas: Ensayos de critíca literaria (Mexico City: Editorial Oasis, 1986), as well as a recent book, Viaje a Trilce (Mexico City: Plaza y Valdes, 2001), which is a tour de force. In Texturas, she incorporates two studies of Cesar Vallejo's Trilce's poems, which appear as the building blocks for his larger work. Trilce was the second book of poems by Vallejo (1892-1938) and some of them are among his least accessible. Dr. Lemaitre's learned interpretation of each of the 27 poems in Vallejo's opus is a model of good scholarship. Her analysis is both a thorough exercise in hermeneutics and a beautiful homage to the great Peruvian poet.* In addition to all of these activities, there were also innumerable symposia, panels, activities, and illustrious guest speakers and presentations organized and brought to NIU through Monique's incomparable diligence and dedication. Throughout her distinguished career, Dr. Lemaitre was ever the champion for the disenfranchised in all walks of life, particularly women. She aided countless persons not only in furthering their education, but also in a quiet and determined way, any who crossed her path with a need for self-empowerment and advocacy. Her crucial work in translation and dissemination of the communiques from the Zapatistas in Chiapas during the early days of their uprising in the advent of the internet era far preceded what today has become common practice in the realms of raising public awareness of dire political situations via social media. Her work was initially done within the communities in Chiapas, alongside those most affected, in dangerous and difficult conditions. She was equally a champion for those to whom she was daughter, sister, aunt, mother, grandmother and friend. Her fierce devotion and enormous generosity to all of us will be remembered for generations to come, as will the gifts of her words and her spirit, so beautifully imbued in all of us. She was most greatly beloved and predeceased by her brothers, Jean-Marie (the late Cecilia) and Yves (Virginia) and survived by her brothers, Guy Lemaître (Tree), Christian Lemaître (Carmen); her sister, Graciela Lemaître-Avalos (Jorge); and predeceased by her cherished sons, Jean-Pierre Nutini Lemaître (Lisa) and his brother, Francesco Gino Nutini Lemaître; also surviving and beloved by her are her grandson, Christian (Brandi); and her great-grandchildren, Nadia, Ethan, Christian, Monique and Jean-Pierre (Rouleau); and her nephews, Alain, Yves, Jean-Paul, Felipe, Rafael, Guy Thierry; and her niece, Corene (Lemaître). She was predeceased by her niece, Michou (Lemaître). Those wishing to make a memorial donation are invited to donate to the Foundation Michou y Mau, established in honor of Monique's deceased niece, Michou and her son, Mauricio. Monique was very proud of her sister-in-law, Virgina Sendel Lemaître's creation of a foundation that has brought meaning to the tragic loss of her daughter and grandson due to lack of burn treatment resources since its inception by helping save the lives of 5100 persons. Donations may be made online via Paypal at the following link and donors may make note of their intention to honor Monique. http://www.fundacionmichouymau.org/index.php?s=donaciones. According to her wishes, no funeral was held. A memorial celebration of her life is being planned tentatively for January in Pittsburgh, in conjunction with family, friends from near and far, and the Center for Latin American Studies. Those who would like to be informed of the details may send an email to admin@mexicolindo.biz with "Memorial" as subject line or call Lisa at 412-422-9984. *excerpted text used with gratitude to author and Professor Dr. Eloy Merino ©2004, Encuentros, www.cla.niu.eduilatino.



To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in Pittsburgh Post-Gazette from Nov. 21 to Nov. 22, 2015.
Memories & Condolences
Not sure what to say?
7 entries
September 30, 2019
Still living in our thoughts.
Maria Alicia
September 29, 2019
You were a great profesora at NIU and I learned a lot. Very knowledgable yet very approachable.
November 21, 2015
Querida Monique, muchas, muchas gracias. Tanto que agradecerte a lo largo de mi vida como profesora en los Estados Unidos! Fuiste un ejemplo para mí. Muchas gracias por tu generosidad como brillante académica, como amiga entrañable, como luminoso ser humano.
Alessandra Luiselli
November 21, 2015
I will always remember Monique as an outstanding scholar. She masterfully blended rigorous academic work and political commitment to the struggle for a better world. During my years at NIU, Monique was a friend and model academic. She stood out as the rare kind of professor who practiced an engaged scholarship deeply committed to co-learning and research in the service of social justice. My deepest condolences to her family and loved ones.
John Holst
November 21, 2015
You will always be in our thoughts.
Maria Alicia Vetter
November 21, 2015
Monique will not be forgotten. Her accomplishments and solidarity will be remembered by all those she touched while alive and those who she will continue to influence through her works. She was a most inspiring teacher and a true friend.
Maria Alicia Vetter
November 21, 2015
For all family and friends she left behind, I am so sorry for your loss. What an incredible and inspiring mini-biography of an extraordinary woman and a life well-lived.
Carol Schreitmueller
Invite others to add memories
Share to let others add their own memories and condolences