Love and Inspiration

My aunt, Alice Schlossberg, passed away on Sunday. She was the first Asianist and history teacher in my family, and I will miss her terribly. Perhaps my first real taste of Asian culture — as opposed to Chinese food — was finding Zen Comics in her book collection as a kid.

She was the kind of teacher I never had in high school: rigorous, energetic, smart, inspiring and effective. (I had some of those, but never in one package). Being part of a medium-sized school, she taught US — she was a proud member of the Millard Fillmore Society, she told me — and European history — she had her students simulate the Versailles conference — as well as Asian.

The last few years, Alice had been spending summers getting familiar with new technologies and new scholarship, building web sites with primary and secondary materials for student research projects. She told me about some of the tricks and techniques she used to draw students in, like having them write their responses and interpretations to five minutes of a documentary about the Ganges with the sound off, so there was no voice-over telling them what to think.

Much of what I remember and loved about her has nothing to do with her work — the chocolate chip corn muffins, the penguin collection (her brother — my father — also began collecting penguins as an adult, independently), the incredibly irreverent humor (puns and all) and strong sense of justice, the holidays. The Schlossbergs live in Beverly, just north of Boston, so I got to know the MBTA commuter trains pretty well. They were always welcoming and supportive, and every graduate student should have an aunt and her family in the vicinity, I think.

We will miss her, and I hope that I can continue to grow as a teacher until I feel like I’ve lived up to her example.


  1. I had your aunt, Ms. Schlossberg, as a teacher and I came upon this website because I was looking for her obtituary because I am currently a student at UVM and could not get to her Shiva. Everything you said is completely correct yet no one can ever even begin to describe the effect she had on students. She was inspirational and motivational without even knowing or trying. Her presence was always known yet she was never overbearing or proud. If I were to be able to become a tenth of what Ms. Schlossberg was and to have the slightest impact on a student as she did, I will consider my life well lived. She would never admit that she had such a proufound affect on her students but I hope she really did realize how many lifes she touched and how many of us are pursuing various majors and careers because of her. She will be missed but her legacy and beliefs will be forever intertwined in those who met her and continue to live by her example. I am forever grateful to have met her and been able to learn from her.

  2. Jon and Ashley,
    Your moving words are a comfort to us as we mourn her death.

    I believe the greatest tribute she would have wished for is your success (each of you)
    as teacher and student. We have set up a website ( to allow others to
    share their thoughts as well. With love, Sara Schlossberg (Alice’s daughter)

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