Skip to main content

Sheila Delany Papers

 Collection — Box: 1
Identifier: SCA-0015

Scope and Contents

This collection documents Sheila Delany's short-lived but memorable association with Queens College and the City University of New York. Two folders provide evidence of the decision by Queens College not to rehire Delany in 1968 and related political activity through the spring of 1969. Items include flyers and documents related to Delany's work with the Ad-Hoc Committee to End Political Suppression, as well as correspondence regarding her firing and appeal. One folder consists of documents and letters from 1969-1974 that relate to Delany's 1969 job offer with the CUNY University Center SEEK program, and its subsequent retraction. The offer was ititially made by Aijaz Ahmad, and later retracted by Miriam Gilbert. Correspondance documents Delany's claim that she was "politically blacklisted" and her outreach to the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) to help with the case. One folder consists of various newspaper articles (mostly from campus newspaper The Phoenix) detailing the campus unrest at Queens College during the spring of 1969.


  • 1968 - 1974


Conditions Governing Access

Appointments to examine materials must be made in advance. Please e-mail for more information or to schedule an appointment.

Conditions Governing Use

Via the Deed of Gift, Sheila Delany has released materials she created into the Public Domain via a CC0 Creative Commons "No Rights Reserved" dedication. To learn more about CC0 see

Please note that the CC0 license applies only to materials created by Sheila Delany. Collection use is subject to all copyright laws. The responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.

Biographical / Historical

Dr. Sheila Delany is a retired professor of medieval literature. She obtained her PhD in English and Comparative Literature from Columbia University in 1967. That same year, she was hired by Queens College English Department as a professor. In November 1968, the department notified Delany of their decision not rehire her for reasons not specified. Delany notes that English Chair Daniel Donno told her she was not "charming enough" and students believe she was targeted for her leftist political views. Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) took up the fight to reinstate Delany, as her cause became one of several flanks in a wave of campus unrest (students were protesting the Vietnam War, corporate and military recruiters on campus, racism, and advocating for students rights and academic freedom).

Losing the appeal, Delany used her enforced year off to put together her first book, Counter-tradition: The Literature of Dissent and Alternatives (Basic Books, 1970). She and her husband accepted tenure-track positions at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, BC, moving there in 1970 with their two small children, Nick and Lev. Delany became a distinguished medievalist and Chaucerian, pioneering gender studies and a Marxian approach to literature in her many articles and books. She was invited to speak at conferences and universities in North America, South Africa, Australia, Israel, England, Belgium, Poland. Since 1974, she has been closely associated with the Marxist academic journal Science and Society and has worked locally with groups focusing on Cuba, Palestinian rights, and free speech, as well as the international Spartacist tendency. She retired from Simon Fraser University in 2006 and lives in Vancouver.


.4 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



From 1967-1969, Dr. Sheila Delany taught English Literature at Queens College. In November 1968, the English Department's decision not to rehire Delany contributed to campus upheveal that occurred in the spring of 1969. This collection documents the department's decision and protests associated with her plight, as well as a subsequent job offer in the SEEK program that was later retracted. Materials include correspondence, fliers, and clippings.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift from Sheila Delany in May 2019.

Related Materials

Related Material at Queens College Special Collections and Archives: Mark Levy Papers, Queens College Campus Unrest Collection, Michael Wreszin Papers

Sheila Delany Papers
Rachel Kahn
May 2019
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the Queens College (New York, N.Y.) Special Collections and Archives Repository

Queens College Library, CUNY
Benjamin Rosenthal Library RO317
65-30 Kissena Boulevard
Flushing 11367 USA us