Meet Marc

Welcome to Marc’s website, a project devoted to carrying on his humor, work and legacy. The site is for both people who knew Marc and those who never had a chance. For those who knew Marc, please help build this sanctuary. Your contributions will reveal new aspects of Marc. (For Quaker Friends, a person isn’t dead until he is forgotten.) For you who never knew Marc, may his legacy inspire you as he inspired us.

a master teacher

To students, friends and colleagues, Marc generously a sense of belonging and of holding on together against the world beyond. He always gave others space to chime in and tell their stories. For his deep empathy had a powerful self-effacing quality – a humility that did not seek reassurance but rather made him a perfect listener. He sensed the fragility of some, and from behind the scenes he found subtle ways to bring out each of us.

Marc’s soulful creations each had their own weight and voice. Marc brought a palpable sense of the overlap of multiple worlds: discursive, cultural, material, political, historical, and, as a historian (and historical sociologist), crossings between the living and the dead. Of the later, he joked about teaching “dead white males.” In fact his work brought forth both those who had left their marks and those whose lives were marked only by convictions in court or other hardships. 

Marc taught sociology both in and beyond the classroom. He also taught us about courage. Under his guidance, abstract concepts, narratives and theories emboldened us to take risks.

For no matter what, Marc had faith in each person’s resilience. As long as one did one’s best, Marc could tolerate vulnerability, pain and each person’s freedom to make their own decisions.

no matter the odds

Marc wouldn’t give up on plants. Ready for compost, I’d gently suggest. I’ll take it, Marc would insist. How tenderly he would water each of his friends, especially the hurting ones, the ones he placed in his “magic window.” Many revived, such as they were. No matter how withered their state, Marc would tend them and take comfort in their company. He especially loved little primroses and African violets. 

Marc wouldn’t give up on people either. He expressed frustration about particular behaviors, but he always saw the potential for good. No matter the odds, he did everything in his power to bring out those seeds of goodness.

Most important, Marc tirelessly invented ways to reach his students. Every year he taught theory, he gave out pens he’d had inscribed with “Not So Hard Theory Café: SOC 255.” Theory can be hard, but even limited understanding would, he believed, empower each student.  Above all, he was committed to helping when he knew others might not, whatever the outcome might be.

accountability now

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Marc cared about social movements: He stood – bedecked in his cap and gown — with Smith students to demand that the College ensure that its apparel would be manufactured by union (rather than sweatshop) labor.  The College came through, and the students learned that collective action can make a difference.

“It’s overdetermined,” Marc would gently respond when anyone presumed to know more than s/he could. Marc tirelessly challenged reductionism, black-and-white thinking, and hearsay presented as knowledge. He helped us to see the dialectical nature of most discourse and experience. To know Marc was to be regularly reminded of the interpenetration of opposites.

If you’re missing Marc’s spirit, you might find comfort in the company of the flag-carrying Marc-like creature in “Dirty Paws,” a lyric video (4:34 minutes) by Of Monsters and Men. (Click on the creature to read more and hear the song.)