In Memorium: Rebecca Basham

Professor Rebecca Basham passed away yesterday at home. A playwright and member of the Department of English, she was 48. A reviewer described one of her plays as “brash, bracing, wildly funny, and covertly serious.” The same could be said of Rebecca herself. She will be sorely missed.


Rebecca received her M.F.A. in Creative Writing from the University of New Orleans in 2001. Her plays — Lot’s Daughters, Arbeit Macht Frei, Louisiana LIKK-HR and Wrinkles — were produced around the country, including at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the Diversionary Theater in San Diego. They were also published by Samuel French.

She was the recipient of many awards, including the Michael Kanin National Playwriting Award, William Morris Award, Jane Chambers National Playwriting Award, the Sundance Award and two San Diego Critics Circle Awards. Reviewers called her “a very gifted playwright,” one “with a great deal to say, and a keen sense of how to frame a tale.” Her drama was described as “vivid, funny, provocative, and deeply moving,” a “blend of emotional intensity and warm humor,” and “full of clever, apt lines.” Rebecca was typically generous in return, donating the proceeds of her productions to gay and lesbian organizations.

Rebecca came to Rider in 2002 where she taught playwriting, screenwriting and literature courses, as well as contributed to the Gender and Sexuality Studies, American Studies, and Film and Media Studies programs. She directed the Gender and Sexuality Studies Program from 2004 to 2007, and she received the Sadie L. Ziegler-Bernice Gee Award in 2010, an award presented to the person who has most significantly contributed to ending gender-based discrimination.

Matthew Goldie in the Department of English says that as a colleague, “she was our truth-teller, always saying the exact right thing at the right time, insightful about people, and funnier than all get out just when you needed it.”

Her plays were also produced and read on campus. Students appreciated working with a nationally acclaimed artist, and her classrooms will be remembered for her keen insights and inspired teaching. She was also exceptionally kind and generous in her mentorship of junior faculty, sharing intuitions with trenchant wit and encouragement with brisk good humor. Her colleague Dr. Vanita Neelakanta says she “adored her. She was mentor, friend and partner in crime, and coming in to work was that much more meaningful and fun if she was there

Another colleague and friend, Dr. Jack Sullivan, describes her as “a courageous, generous, and scathingly funny human being. She gave us a much-needed dash of New Orleans spice. The last time I saw her was in an oyster bar on Bourbon Street, where she seemed happy and in her element, a good way to remember her.”

Rebecca is survived by her mother, Regina Puryear, sisters Laura and Ginny, and her partner, Dr. Terry Pertuit, who teaches in Graduate Education at Rider University.

A memorial service will be held in New Jersey at the beginning of the fall semester; details will be sent when they are confirmed.

Written by Professor Matthew Goldie

Update: See also Rebecca’s memorial page.

Todd Dills to Speak at Writer’s Block

Writer’s Block, Rider’s student writing club, presents novelist and business journalist Todd Dills, who will speak on April 14 in the open period, 11:30-1:00, in Fine Arts 307.


Todd Dills is the author of a novel (Sons of the Rapture, Featherproof 2006) and the 2013 short-story collection, Triumph of the Ape. He is senior editor of Overdrive magazine where his writing was recently awarded the highest honor in business journalism—the Grand Neal—by American Business Media at the 2014 Jesse H. Neal Awards.

Breanne Needles Lands Dream Internship!

Breanne Needles, a junior English major, has accepted a paying internship for this summer writing press releases for the Wu-Tang Clan.


Breanne will be the assistant to Eva Ries, the marketing executive and talent agent who over the past twenty years has brokered record deals and booked tours for Wu-Tang Clan, Nas, Nirvana, Guns N’ Roses, and Russell Simmons.

If you see Breanne around campus, congratulate her!

Lillian Faderman Keynote at the NJ Gender Colloquium, Friday 3/27

This Friday, March 27, Rider will be hosting the New Jersey Women’s and Gender Studies Colloquium. This is essential for anyone working on gender and sexuality studies in literature and film as well as anyone specifically interested in the history of sexuality and lesbian studies (Faderman is a foundational critic in the latter).

Faderman’s keynote will be held in Sweigart 115 between 1:10-2:30.


Emeritas professor of English at California State University, Fresno and visiting professor at UCLA, Lillian Faderman is an internationally known scholar of lesbian history and literature, as well as ethnic history and literature.

Among her many honors are six Lambda Literary Awards, two American Library Association Awards, and several lifetime achievement awards for scholarship, including Yale University’s James Brudner Award, the Monette/Horwitz Award, the Publishing Triangle Award, the ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives Culture Hero Award, and the American Association of University Women’s Distinguished Senior Scholar Award. The New York Times named two of her books, Surpassing the Love of Men and Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers, on its Notable Books of the Year list.