Brandie Siegfried

Brandie Siegfried

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In Memoriam: Brandie Siegfried
Brandie Siegfried, professor and author, whose erudite scholarship won praise across several disciplines, and whose teaching inspired and changed lives of students while challenging them with her famously arduous and demanding vision of what they could accomplish, died on Wednesday, February 17, in Provo, Utah. She was 57. Her death, at home, was attended by her husband after a six-month struggle with complications of breast cancer. Dr. Siegfried published an edition of Margaret Cavendish’s Poems and Fancies with the Animal Parliament which won the Society for the Study of Early Modern Women and Gender's Josephine Roberts Award for the Best Scholarly Edition of 2018. The citation praised “Siegfried’s erudite and thorough contextualization of Margaret Cavendish's diverse intellectual interests and reading in the natural sciences, literature, classics, mathematics, and philosophy [for] mak[ing] the most complex aspects of Cavendish’s writings—such as her ‘atomic’ theories—accessible to the modern reader. Siegfried’s edition offers a model for future editions of early modern women writers and ensures that the work of Margaret Cavendish receives its rightful place in the history of European thought and early modern women’s history.” Though Dr. Siegfried had been initially skeptical about delaying her other book projects to edit Cavendish’s book, she ultimately found much in Cavendish’s work that had been overlooked by previous editions and that served Dr. Siegfried’s ability to tell a gripping story. Dr. Siegfried produced many notable scholarly works during her 28 years as a professor of literature at Brigham Young University, including two essay collections she finalized and finished editing with her co-editors during the months of her illness.

Though she did not shy away from controversy, and was famous for her courage and happy willingness to fight for causes that mattered most to her, such as women’s studies, she was also known for her generosity to her opponents, her ability to listen, especially to their stories, and she befriended people everywhere. She is remembered for her infectious laugh and seemed to have friends on all sides.

She will be particularly missed as a teacher, someone whose intense and detailed attention to her students’ writing and her indefatigable commitment to one-on-one feedback sessions on their papers was accompanied by equally detailed criticism and high expectations for the next essay. Her students tended to rise to those expectations and often reported they discovered their best abilities in Dr. Siegfried’s classes, along with life secrets of the good, the true, and the beautiful. She will also be missed as a teacher in her church where she focused on hearing from each person in attendance, and whose classes felt enriched by such thorough sharing with each other. Halfway through her teaching career Dr. Siegfried found herself surrounded by young scholar colleagues, at Brigham Young University and other colleges and universities, whom she’d mentored as undergraduates, helped to achieve acceptance to graduate school, and who, now as professors themselves, carry on after Dr. Siegfried’s passing with their own earned excellence.

She will be missed as a beloved sister, daughter, and daughter-in-law, who as a child and youth, eldest of six, helped guide her family through difficult times while finding laughter and joy.

She will be missed as a beloved wife and partner in every activity and conversation. She always found joy in nature and in her favorite mountain adventures; she will be missed as a cycling partner in the high passes and as a skiing partner in the snowy cirques. For joy in nature, she was just as happy watching and interpreting the antics of various corvids and other birds who seemed to crowd around the windows of her atelier home office where she did her scholarship and read student papers.

She is survived by her husband, Mitch Harris, by her mother, Carolyn Siegfried, by her siblings, including sisters Sherry Armstrong, Monique Stewart, Coquette Jacobsen, and Lovette Dresden, mother-in-law Claudia Harris, and step daughters Fiona and Nora Harris.

Memorial Service Saturday 2-27 11:00am Mountain Standard time
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Bruce Brown

Posted at 01:30pm
It is difficult to express how grateful we are for the friendship of Brandie and Mitch over the past two decades of our life. We dearly love them both and will eternally. The funeral service was one of the most joyous and edifying I have experienced, filled with wisdom, sensitivity, and love. We were left with a deep appreciation for the intense energy of her life, her unselfishness and kindness, and her unbounded love and regard for each person she met. A friend commented afterward that he stands in awe of her brilliance and the great positive influence she left behind. She was indeed brilliant, but the most important thing I learned from her was "do things that are hard to do." That seemed to be her motto. She would just jump in and do difficult stuff and it would come together. She had more than her share of adversity but also more than her share of wisdom. I loved hearing about her organizing a "Siegfried Family Circus" at the age of six. I am grateful to have been there for that wonderful hour of celebration of her life.

Neeraj Gupta

Posted at 11:43am
Brandi was a very special niece to me, my first one. She was always happy, loving and helpful to everybody. She was also adventurous. Her learning experience in South America as a missionary, gave her a new insight of new priorities in life. Materialistic things were not important to her as compared to people. To live without the conveniences that we have in this country ie. clean water, indoor plumbing, electricity. She found you can live without them. But we cannot live without love. Brandi loved everybody. She helped everybody she could. She was the most excellent person and I love her......
Aunt Arline Link

Suzanne Riddle

Posted at 12:19am
Brandie was a really good person. She was brilliant and kind and fun. She was able to make everyone she met feel accepted, while also inspiring us to be better. I’m so grateful for her mentoring during college. I was a Nursing major, but spent a lot of time in the English department. Her wise advice helped shape the person I became. I hope she knew how many lives she touched. I send my love to all members of the Harris and Siegfried family.

Rosalyn Eves

Posted at 10:34am
Dr. Siegfried taught the first English class I took as an undergraduate English major at BYU. I walked out of the first day of class convinced I was going to fail (I found out later she'd been assigned the class last minute, was not excited to teach it, and was trying to scare us out of the class). But I stuck with it--it was one of the hardest classes I'd taken, but I loved it. I went on to take other classes from her, and she served as my honors thesis advisor and wrote one of my letters of recommendation to grad school. I'm so sad to hear she's gone--I wish I'd had a chance to tell her how influential she was in my life. She was the first person to articulate for me a distinction between church culture and the gospel, a distinction that has saved my faith many times. She taught me that you could, in fact, be a member of the LDS church and a feminist. She taught me not to accept easy answers, especially in literary analysis, but to push harder and work harder. I've been extraordinarily lucky to have good teachers and mentors in my career, and Brandie Siegfried was one of the best.

Tammy (Thorup, Scoville) Brice

Posted at 05:27pm
As an undergraduate student in Dr. Siegfried’s class, I remember looking up at the clock not to see how much time was left because I was bored, but to see how much time was left hoping there was a lot because I was so enthralled with her lectures. Meeting with her one on one she was the one who encouraged me to get a masters degree and would become my thesis chair in that endeavor a few years later. She helped me think about ideas in a way I never had before and really put me on the path I followed through my academic career. Earning her praise felt like the highest privilege. Her felicity with language was unmatched. I still find myself thinking about experiences she shared in class and the ways she would weave ideas together from different paths into one. Because of her I ponder about moral proximity and how good can be used for evil. She was a master teacher and mentor. My sincerest condolences to her family.

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